Thursday, March 29, 2012

Roasted Pear Chutney

I've been getting home late all week...which usually means far less time in the kitchen.  To make up for all of the dinners on the go, I promised myself I would make something stellar come Friday.  After perusing cookbooks, bookmarked blogs and Pinterest boards, Maple-Brined Pork Loin and Roasted Pear Chutney came out the clear winner.  Now I need to settle on a side or two.  I am a girl who loves her veggies...

And to up the anticipation just a little bit more I made the Roasted Pear Chutney ahead of time. It made the kitchen smell absolutely divine AND gave me something a little more interesting to stir into my oatmeal in the morning.  Call it a trial run...

adapted from Thyme in Our Kitchen and Epicurious

yields 2-3cups

The Ingredients:
2 pears, peeled and halved
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup maple syrup
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbsp currants
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Toss the pears with the lemon juice, brown sugar, the cinnamon, and cloves. Coat a roasting pan or baking dish with 1 Tbsp of the vegetable oil. Set the pears cut side down on the pan. Brush the pears with the remaining oil.And place in the center rack of the oven.  Roast until the pears are tender and the coating has caramelized to a deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Riper pears may need less time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
While the pears are roasting, in a medium saucepan bring the remaining ingredients to a gentle boil. Reduce   heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow to cool.
When the pears are cool enough to handle, scoop out the cores and seeds with a small spoon or a melon baller. Cut the pears into slices or small chunks (I prefer chunks...about 1/2-inch cubed). In a 1 1/2 qt bowl toss together the pears and onion mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  

The chutney will keep for up to two weeks...if it lasts that long.

The Review:
It was really, incredibly, unbelievably difficult NOT to dig right in with a spoon the moment all of the ingredients finally came together.  From the minute I tossed the pears with the cloves and cinnamon I knew we'd be in for a wonderful treat.  Sincerely, right out of the oven, I wanted dearly to drizzle each pear with a little mulled wine reduction and indulge in dessert...

I showed restraint...

The onion, vinegar dried berries and thyme began simmering away on the stove, slowly replacing the pears spicy aroma with a clean tangy scent.  I knew that smell...but I couldn't quite place my finger upon it. Watching the red onion slowly weep it's color to lend the mixture its pink blush, the scent memory became clear.  My Grandmother's kitchen.  Vinegary red cabbage from scratch.  As a kid I hated red cabbage.  And sauerkraut. And now my own kitchen was wrapped in a cloud of old world aromas and I couldn't be happier.  I immediately made note to try this chutney again with rabbit, venison, boar...any rich gamey meats.  With a side of spaetzle and red cabbage...

Twenty four hours later any lingering thoughts of red cabbage were wiped away with the first bite of the fully marinaded concoction.  The fragrant warmth of cinnamon and clove greeted my tongue, balanced with the slight acidic tang of the vinegar.  The bite of the onions followed, offering up a savory hint and a pleasant crunch.  In that moment I was glad I had nixed any notion of first caramelizing or sauteing the onions...their sharpness was actually mellowed a touch by the vinegar, and the crunch from the mere 5 minutes in the pot was an amazing layer of texture.  A touch of thyme nosed through.  And then the pear.  The sweet anchor of the chutney, dancing off all of the other players. A touch of tart from the dried fruit mingled with the sweetness.  And in the last moment the gentle heat of the red pepper lingered, just enough to remind me it was there.  Yet another twist and turn upon my tongue.  I couldn't decide which flavor or texture I enjoyed more, as I continues to sample from the blissfully fragrant bowl.  I had to remind myself that this was made for Friday's dinner.  Though I'm not certain that poor pork loin will be able to hold a candle to its accompaniment...


  1. Wow, this sounds fantastic - I love mango and peach chutneys, this must be a great flavor, too!

  2. Oh my you are going to have quite the meal! This chutney sounds totally fantastic!

  3. Spicy meets sweet. I totally see how you could eat this all day! :D