Updated: May 4
A good chutney is the food of the gods. It can transform anything into a feast. If all you've got in the fridge is an old bit of cheddar, throw in a chutney and you've got a cheese board. If you've been pickling onions too, you're halfway to a ploughman's, which means you're basically having a pub lunch and I would kill for a pub lunch right now. If you're staring at the bag of lentils lurking in the cupboard wondering what to do with it, knock up a simple dal (sauté onions and garlic with curry powder, add lentils and veg stock and cook till lentils are soft) and serve it with a chutney, magnificent. It is also the most brilliant way to use up leftover fruit and veg and (like the pickles) there is basic set of rules that you can apply to most things to transform it into chutney.
1. Start with onions and spices
2. Add you fruit and/or veg of choice
3. Add approx 1 tbsp sugar to every 100g veg/fruit and about half as much vinegar by volume (this is very approx, as it depends on how sweet the fruit/veg is that you start with, but the sugar is necessary for the chutney to thicken)
4. Simmer until a good consistency
5. Put into sterilised jars and keep for at least a month before eating
You can even make chutney fancy - we made these incredibly more-ish Kentish blue and apple chutney palmiers. And then I ate most of them before they even made it onto the menu...
Personally, I love a spicy chutney, so here is an actual recipe (although I invite you to chop and change it to your taste) for a chutney I made with bolted onions after we had some crazy weather on the Harbour last year and the onions in the garden went a bit berserk. I used the whole onion including the flower (where there was one) for this. We served this at brunch with a decadent plate of French toast topped with melted Swiss-style cheese (delicious Mutschli from Ottinge Court Farm). Apologies for re-using the same picture from a previous post!
CARAMELISED BOLTED ONION CHUTNEY
12 bolted onions (Sliced) - you can use 6-8 normal onions or red onions instead 2 bay leaves
3 red chillies (finely chopped) Glug of rapeseed oil (I recommend Pure Kent - it really is a step above anything else) 200g soft brown sugar 150ml balsamic vinegar 150ml cider vinegar
1. Cook onions with bay and chillies gently in the rapeseed oil over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes. This is important to soften the onions - once bolted they are quite tough and chewy
2. Let the onions get quite dark, then add the sugar and vinegar and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the chutney is thick and sticky.
3. Pour into hot, sterilised jars and leave to cool. Mature for min 1 month.