Saturday, September 26, 2009

When The Neighbors Give You Pears....

Our good friends and neighbors left the other day for France to attend her mothers' birthday and a general family reunion. What they left behind for us was several pounds of beautiful Bartlett pears.

They'll be back an a couple of weeks but meanwhile they knew the fruit would just go to the birds if left on the tree, so while at a dog birthday party (which is another story) they handed off several large grocery bags of pears.
"Croustade!", was my first thought...but then common sense and my desire to still fit into my jeans got the better of me and ,"chutney!" was a close second.
I have a whole larder full of pickled and spiced items. It's how I fill my time while writing and watching the seasons pass here in Wine Country. I've got pickles and
cherries of several varieties, mango chutney, plum chutney, apricot chutney..I sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump. The one thing I don't have is any Pear Chutney.
In my search for good pear chutney recipes, I decided to look to the region of Kashmir where I know they grow wonderful fruit, especially pears. Surely there would be several good Kashmiri Pear Chutney recipes out there. I ran across several. One from Suvir Saran owner of the Devi Restaurant in NYC, others from my various Indian cookbooks. I can't say that any particularly called out to me. Then I thought, "hell, I've made tons of chutney, why can't I take advice from all of these recipes and come up with something I like", so I did.
I started out with several pounds of Bartlett Pears. One recipe called for the use of 3 1/2 pounds..about 6 pears..that however yielded only a 1 pt. jar of chutney. A lot of work for a little bit of good stuff. So the next morning, I decided to take the rest of my pears, and double the recipe I came up with and get at least two more pt. jars out of it.
So say you have about 6 lbs of Bartlett Pears, more or less. Here's what you do:
1.) In a deep skillet melt 2 Tbs of unsalted butter
2.) 2 Tbs of vegetable oil
When it's hot and foamy toss in
3.) 1 Tbs of fennel seed
4.) 1 1/2 tsp. of cumin seed
5.) Anywhere from 4 to 6 dried hot red peppers
6.) a 2 inch piece of ginger peeled and finely minced
Stir these around still they sizzle and the dried peppers darken.
Next add:
7.) 2 large pieces of cinnamon stick each broken in half
8.) 1/4 tsp of paprika
After a minute or so of stirring these about add in
9.) Your Pears, peeled, cored and sliced thinly (note about the pears, while preparing them don't forget to sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from discoloring)
10.) 1/2 cup of jaggery (palm sugar) or light brown sugar
11.) 2 tsp of kosher (pickling) salt
12.) A pinch of ground green coriander powder
13.) 1/2 cup of dried currants
14.) 2 Tbs of white wine vinegar
Bring the mixture to a slow boil stir it well, then turn down the heat and simmer at a medium low temp for about 20 to 35 minutes. Check your chutney every now and then to keep it from sticking and burning. When it's thickened and golden take it out and if you are planning on using it in the next few days or week, keep it in a covered container in the fridge..or you can pack it in sterilized jars and process according to directions.

Ok. So we just had some for lunch. It was delicious with pork and should be equally so with chicken. I know I probably could sneak into my neighbors' yard while they're in France and see if there are anymore pears getting ready to ripen, and I did promise I'd drop by and say "hi" to their dog for them...I just need an excuse...anyone???


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