Like my professional kitchen, my home kitchen has many of the qualities of a laboratory. Professional baking is as much about experimentation and garnering an understanding of how ingredients perform as it is about any end-result. When I understand ingredient performance and synergy with other ingredients, I find the confidence to really create.
The first quarter of the year always presents with gorgeous citrus. I wanted to experiment with Meyer Lemon-Manadarin Orange chutney. Living on the jet-streamed 45th parallel, even citrus, while not all locally grown, is available in significant variety with relatively low food miles.
WHAT ARE CHUTNEYS? Chutneys, almost by definition, are made when ingredients are freshest and at their seasonal best. Although Indian in origin and showcasing mangoes, coconut, sesame, peanuts and either ground mint or coriander, chutneys have an adaptability to a nearly infinite slate of fruits. A collision of strong, juxtaposed individual flavors when skillfully blended and allowed appropriate set time for flavors to meld, morph into delectable condiments and luxurious garnishes to savories and sweets.
Citrus zest, particularly Meyer lemon zest, has not only the exuberant tart-sweet flavor of its juice and pulp, it has Mandarin orange background notes.
WHAT FLAVORS COMPLEMENT CITRUS IN CHUTNEY? Mandarin lends itself to a cadre of sweet, tart and spicy complements: cumin, garlic, ginger, honey, lemon juice, lime, green onions, rosemary, sugar and several types of vinegars.
WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS IN MEYER LEMON CHUTNEY? Kosher salt activates juicing overnight. Then we use brown sugar, fresh garlic, large organic raisins, blood orange juice, cider vinegar, fresh ginger, coriander and cayenne.
Chutneys require significant time for flavors to meld. Six weeks later the product evolves into a powerful yet subtle blend of its rich ingredients. Chutneys, by their nature, encourage experimentation. Courageous experimentation will be well rewarded.