A seasonal fruit chutney can be your secret weapon all throughout autumn. This cranberry-pear spread, flavored with aromatic spices, can stand in for traditional cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner, but it will also add brightness to everyday sandwiches and roasted pork, duck or chicken. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to a cheese platter, pairing well with almost any type of cheese, young or aged. Make an impromptu hors d’oeuvre by spreading crostini with ricotta or goat cheese and a spoonful of the chutney.
This recipe can also be made up to 1 week before you serve it, so you really can keep it on hand. And after fall? If you process the jars, you’ll have a taste of the harvest season all year long.
1 cup (6 oz./185 g.) minced white onion
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) apple cider
3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
4 juniper berries
1 Tbs. coarsely grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. coarsely grated orange zest
1 cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 inches (4 cm.) long
6 whole cloves
1 1/4 cups (9 oz./280 g.) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 bag (12 oz./375 g.) fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
2 Bosc or other firm but ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm.) cubes
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the onion, apple cider, orange juice, cider vinegar, juniper berries, lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.), 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and pears and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have blended, 20-30 minutes. The fruit will be quite soft.
Pour the chutney into a jar or bowl and stir with a fork, crushing some, but not all, of the fruit. Let cool completely before serving. The chutney can be tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 3 cups (30 oz./940 g.).
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Cheese, by Georgeanne Brennan.