I often forget that I’m German.
The influence of my Italian-born mother was so overwhelming growing up that, aside from the occasional spaetzle for dinner as a treat for my dad, the German half was completely subsumed. To this day, I tend to think of myself as Italian, conveniently overlooking my very German last name.
I didn’t set out to make this apple chutney with mustard and caraway seeds, served with pork chops, to reclaim or assert my Teutonic roots, it just kinda happened. I’ve decided that chutney is my new favorite condiment – it’s so multi-layered in flavor, is good with so many dishes and is so hard to fuck up. With apples starting to come into season, it seemed downright foolish not to whip up an apple chutney.
I didn’t want to go the standard ginger-and-raisins route, in part because it’s been done by a jillion people already, and in larger part because cooked raisins make me want to toss my cookies.
I consulted The Flavor Bible (LOVE that book) and did some pondering with my own little noggin before deciding on mustard (okay, maybe not so groundbreaking) and caraway seeds, along with chutney standards shallot, garlic and crushed red pepper; one does want a hint of heat.
After briefly sauteing the shallot and garlic in a bit of olive oil, I dumped in the apples (I used Fuji), and spices along with equal parts apple cider vinegar and dark brown sugar.
Not wanting the chutney to dry out and sear itself to the bottom of the pot – not that I’ve let THAT happen before – I simmered it for a while with the lid on so the apples could tenderize. I still had to add a bit of water during the cooking process, as my lid was ill-fitting, but scorching was averted.
The lid came off for a few minutes near the end so the remaining liquid could cook down and the chutney could fully jammify. Jammification is a critical step in achieving a well-textured chutney.
Et voila! Apple chutney with mustard and caraway. Now, what to do with it? The obvious: pair it with pork.
Personally, I think it would be killer on a warm ham-and-cheese sandwich, but I know Brian loves him a pork chop and I almost never make them. You know I live to please my man, so I picked up some Frenched, thick cup pork chops and threw ’em in a cast iron skillet.
If I REALLY lived to please my man I would have brined them first, as you will. But as my desire to please is in constant conflict with my desire to nap, I skipped that step this time around.
I declare chutney to be the official TNS condiment of Fall/Winter 2011. God damn, I love it. This one has nice texture, isn’t too sweet, has a good balance of sweet/savory/spicy, and is fricking PERFECT with a well-cooked piece of pork. Combine that with the ease of preparation – chop, simmer, done – and you can see why I’m pretty sure I’ll be chutneying it up on a regular basis.
Easy Apple Chutney
2 c. peeled diced apples (I used Fuji)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. minced shallot
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 – 1/2 c. water (if needed)
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
s+p to taste
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
Dump in the apples, mustard, caraway, vinegar, sugar, red pepper and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding some water if the mixture starts to look dry. The apples will be tender and the mixture will darken in color.
Take the lid off the pot and simmer for a few more minutes to reduce any remaining liquid; the texture should be like a thick marmelade. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
Serve hot or cold. Keeps for a week or so.