Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“Chutney” Sauce for Pork Chops, Chicken Cutlets, Turkey Scallops …

I’m not entirely sure how it happens, but any refrigerator I’ve ever owned somehow becomes a halfway house for partially eaten jars of preserves, jams and marmalades. I have already confessed to an affinity for cooking and canning jams and such, so I suppose I have to take responsibility for creating an environment where these scraggily jars of fruity goodness might feel so totally comfortable to crash and nod about, forgotten in the junk yard of Smucker’s and such.

And while I’m claiming responsibilities, I have another small confession. As much as I enjoy creating preserves and purr like a fat ol’ cat counting up the jars on my basement shelf, a jeweler with his gems… I really don’t eat them so often. I think they taste incredible; it’s just not usually what I want first thing in the morning. And I’ve yet to schedule enough time for afternoon high tea. Though just the mention of it does make a lot of sense!

So it was with serious smug satisfaction that I was struck with inspiration last night as I studied a pair of naked pork chops destined for dinner. Now, when I begin to think about how to serve pork, my Midwestern heart opens up to fruit of any kind. I suspect this may be better attributed to Mama Gladys than the Midwest. To that lady, serving ham without applesauce was somehow as inappropriate as serving scrambled eggs raw.

I have plenty of friends whose kitchen history speaks more to pork chops with vinegar peppers, or thin fried pork chops smothered in gravy. But for me, I’m always looking to add some fruity sweetness cut by spice, smoke, citrus or herb. By now you see where I’m going, no?

Discretely bathing in the 40 watt glow of the top shelf of my refrigerator was a partial, dare I say half FULL, jar of Chambord Four Fruit Preserves from France. Gourmet quality the label boasted. Before it could say “Mon Dieu”, I had snatched it up and was headed toward the stove. A little onion, some left over red pepper, a few staples and I was on my way.

Try this on pork chops, of course, but I think it could also perk up grilled chicken breasts, sautéed turkey paillards, ham or maybe even grilled shrimp – depending on the fruit preserve you choose and adding lemon juice. Save any leftover sauce for sandwiches. It should last a week or more refrigerated.

Chutney Sauce for Pork, Chicken or Turkey

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1/3 cup red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup vermouth or wine, red or white
½ cup preserves or marmalade – any flavor
½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon demi glace (useful if using canned broth, but optional)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon picante smoked paprika (or chipotle chile powder)
½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add oil and then onion and peppers. Sauté, stirring often until onion begins to soften. Add chile flakes and garlic. Stir for 1 minute. Add wine to deglaze pan. Then add preserves, stock, water, demi glace and spices. Simmer over high heat to reduce and thicken. When it reaches your desired consistency, season and serve.

I just know you are going to get some mileage out of this my lovelies. I’m not sure this will be successful with jellies, but beyond that, feel free to push the envelope. Make it just for sandwiches. Serve it with your cheese platter. Go guava, go fig, push pineapple, who said mango?

Later you beautiful people…
Contented eating,
Big Mary