An Offering of Cranberry Chutney

I know what you’re thinking. What is she doing talking about cranberries in late February? Thanksgiving was eons ago.  Please allow me to explain…

I recently finished the most delightful book titled A Homemade Life written lovingly by Molly Wizenberg. Many of you fellow foodies will immediately recognize her as Molly of Orangette fame, the award-winning (deservedly so) blog and Delancey, the pizza joint in Ballard that everyone is raving about that is high on my list of places to try. In my eyes, her book is in large part a tribute to her beloved father. For many reasons, it hit quite close to home.  Her book is also an homage to all things food. She generously shares favorite recipes interspersed with personal accounts of family comings and goings. Molly is often amusing, always eloquent and truly inspiring. If you like books about food – read this one.

As I was reading this treasure, I was in the midst of trying to figure out what to get for my friend Adam’s birthday. A man who seems to have everything, he is frustratingly difficult to shop for.  So making him something sounded like a fine idea. But what? Nothing seemed perfect.  So I let it go for a bit, figuring I’d just buy him a gingham pocket square or two (he is pretty fancy, that one). 

Then I came upon Molly’s recounting of and recipe for Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries. Oh, how I love it when the perfect answer turns up when you aren’t even looking for it. You see, cranberries were the ideal solution for a homemade gift for my friend. Last November I had the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving with Adam and his wonderful family and friends down in Cannon Beach. The dinner table was set, the candles lit, the turkey carved. Then Adam asked his dear mother about the cranberries. For a man of such refined taste, I found it baffling to learn that he is, without apology, squarely in the camp of canned cranberry sauce of the jellied variety. Not even the kind with the whole cranberries. Nope, he wants the ruby red, gelatinous mass that slips out of its container intact, imprints from the can festooning the outside of the cylindrical form. Somehow, I found that endearing.

 

So, knowing of his love of cranberries (albeit the highly processed variety), I decided to cook up a batch of Molly’s famous Chutney. Granted, finding fresh cranberries this time of year was out of the question. Thankfully a fancy store down the road carries them in their frozen fruits section. And it’s highly likely that this Chutney would be significantly improved by the use of fresh cranberries. But I love this recipe.   And, because I simply can’t wait for Adam’s assessment before publishing this post, let’s just say that I hope he loves it too. His swanky birthday party was last weekend and I proudly presented him with a few jars. It’s unlikely he’ll have a turkey sitting around to pair it with – but I can just imagine it accompanying some lovely cheese, slathered on a sandwich or nestled atop roast pork or vegetables.

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Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries

Recipe by Molly Wizenberg

As written, this is a perfect recipe. So I have included it below in its original form (with Molly’s permission). In my version, I made only two substitutions – based exclusively on seasonality and my own frugality. The cranberries were frozen. And I substituted 2 teaspoons of pure orange extract and the zest and juice of a half a large orange for the Grand Marnier.

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces apricot preserves
  • ¾ cup raspberry vinegar, or ¾ cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 ½ tsp raspberry preserves
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 bags fresh cranberries, nasty ones discarded
  • ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

Instructions

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar (or vinegar and raspberry preserves), salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook – it will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching – for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. Molly states that she knows they’re ready when she “hear(s) one or two of them pop; that’s a good indicator that most of them must be getting pretty soft.” Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from the heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.

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End note: I have been asked many times about the photography featured in this blog. Aside from three pictures, they are mine. One such exception is the canned cranberry sauce featured in this post. I considered trying to recreate the photo but ultimately resisted for two reasons. I love this picture for its simplicity – I can almost hear the “thwack” as the entire contents of the can hit the surface, ejecting small drops of moisture far and wide. And I could not, in all honesty, imagine being able to reproduce it. Secondly, I just wasn’t up for eating the jellied mass once done with the photo shoot. And Adam was nowhere in sight…

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5 Responses to “An Offering of Cranberry Chutney”

  1. Emma V. says:

    True story – As a longtime fan of Orangette, I immediately rushed out to buy A Homemade Life. (In truth, I think I even pre-ordered it.) There are several recipes on the site that have become staples – the kinds of recipes that I use when I need some culinary razzle dazzle. (See, The Winning Hearts & Minds Cake and the To-Die-For Turkey Meatballs with Pine Nuts) And shamefully, I have not always been forthcoming about where the exact recipe came from – sure, I may have mentioned the blog, or the book, but I may not have done enough to urge the satisfied diner to go find it. This happened with my boyfriend’s cousin – after months of wowing her with recipes, when I finally handed her the book (not since returned, mind you) she paged through it briefly, looked straight at me, and said, ‘You BITCH!’ And she meant it. I don’t keep recipes a secret anymore. And with this lovely post, I’m glad you don’t either.

  2. Thanks for the recipe. I like making different types of chutney… mmmmm… I love your pictures. I like taking mine too, but sometimes it’s a hassle … I usually make food for us to eat, and take pictures of it, so it doesn’t seem like a waste :)

    Great job!

  3. I found your website on Yahoo and i like your content.

  4. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  5. Man, my grandmomma was Italian and she made the most delicious meatballs I ever tasted, like you wouldnt believe. Sadly, she died last year and she didnt leave a single recipe for us so I’ve been trying to figure it out by myself… slowly working my through the meatball recipe here, I still cant figure out what her secret ingredient was though!!!

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