Tara O’Keeffe quit her job, packed up her Floridian life, and followed her passion for food into the teaching kitchens of the French Culinary Institute in New York City. While most of her time is spent cooking for restaurant diners and instructors, she enjoys nothing more than some good one-on-one time with her kitchen on her Sundays off.
In this series, she shares her weekend cooking projects-trying out new techniques, recipes that take forever but are so worth it, and make-ahead dishes that turn weekday cooking into easy gourmet-and reminds us there is still room for fully-homemade cooking.
Cooking with Condiments: Cranberry-Pear Chutney
The secret to delicious restaurant meals, other than ample seasoning and butter, is incorporating a variety of condiments. It doesn’t sound very exotic, but having homemade chutneys, marmalades, and preserved and pickled produce on hand allows chefs to give a simple dish bright and mouthwatering flavor. Condiments can be used in a variety of applications, and the best part-when stored properly they can last up to a month.
Keeping your refrigerator stocked with homemade condiments will give you the tools to cook like a restaurant chef at home. Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of my favorite condiment recipes along with tasty ways to incorporate them into dishes that will make weekday cooking a no-brainer.
This first recipe started out as a family holiday dinner staple, and thanks to leftovers, has forced me to get creative with it over the years. Now, it’s something I enjoy having all year round, and hopefully you will too. Whip up a batch of Cranberry-Pear Chutney this weekend and add some tart and tang to your weekly menu.
What to do with Cranberry-Pear Chutney
For breakfast: Enjoy with warm oatmeal and a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon, serve on pancakes in place of syrup, or mix in with yogurt and granola for a tart and crunchy parfait
For lunch: Spread on crusty bread and top with ham or turkey, Brie, and fresh arugula for a tasty sandwich
For dinner: Use as a garnish for seared pork chops or dress up a potato pancake with a dollop of creme fraiche and chutney for a sweet and creamy finish
For dessert: Spoon warm chutney over vanilla ice cream and serve with a buttery shortbread cookie
Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and founder of FunFearlessFoodie.com
Servings: Makes 5 Cups
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, lightly toasted
1 (12 oz.) package of fresh cranberries
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 pears, peeled, medium dice
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, medium dice
1/2 onion, small dice
Zest of 1 orange
Fresh lemon juice
Photo: Tara O'Keeffe
1. Combine the first six ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries begin to pop.
2. While the cranberries simmer, heat butter in a saute pan and saute pears, apples, and onions. The goal is to develop a little bit of color and intensify the flavor of the fruit, not to cook it through all the way. When the fruit is slightly softened and has a light brown color, stir into the cranberries and cook until fruit is tender and the chutney has thickened.
3. Remove from heat, stir in zest and lemon juice to taste, and cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon sticks and store in an airtight container or canning jar and keep refrigerated for up to one month.