For hundreds of years, people have been preserving their own food. Before refrigeration was invented, drying, pickling, curing, and fermenting foods were the primary methods for extending the shelf life of produce. With Influence from India, chutney was one of the earliest condiments to be esteemed by the British for its ability to improve the flavor of English cuisine.
Chutney originated in India as a simple fruit paste preserved in honey, eventually evolving to incorporate a variety of fruits, spices, and vegetables. During the 17th century when the British colonized India, they would bring chutney back to England as a novelty good. Because of its bright and exotic flavor, chutney became a popular relish for sandwiches, meats, and cheeses.
As chutney made its way to various parts of the world, people adopted new preparation techniques and experimented with various flavor profiles. It can be prepared using a wet or dry method, and is generally categorized as sweet or hot. Dry chutneys are ground into a paste with a mortar and pestle while wet chutneys are cooked with vinegar and sugar. It can be made with almost any combination of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but almost always contains chilies and spices.
The chutney we make at Frog Hollow Farm is influenced by the English style, which is typically made by cooking fruit with sugar and vinegar until it becomes a reduction. The most commonly used seasonings for this style include: ginger, garlic, onion, and tamarind. Made with our legendary peaches, and Asian pears, our chutney will bring the perfect amount of sweetness and spice to your next meal.
Here is the recipe that Chef Becky and I came up with for lunch. It can be made into a sandwich or enjoyed with rice.
Middle Eastern Style Chicken Sandwich with Asian Pear Chutney and Fresh Mint Leaf
1/2 cup of Baharat Spice mix (1 tbsp of ground black pepper, 1/2 tbsp of ground coriander, 1/2 tbsp of ground cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp of ground cloves, 3/4 tbsp of ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom, 1 tsp of ground nutmeg, 1 tbsp of paprika)
1/2 cup of dried apricot, chopped
1 tbsp of preserved lemons, chopped
1/4 cup of Frog Hollow Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp of mint, finely chopped plus one tbsp for garnish
2 tbsp of chutney
1 sweet baguette
Rub chicken with half of the spice mix and let sit.
Saute the onions with oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Once the onions are soft add the rest of the spice mix and garlic. Continue to cook for about three minutes. Add the apricots and the preserved lemons and stir with the onions until the apricots become tender. Then add the herbs and stir the onions one more time. Add one cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste.
If you are using a dutch oven, place the chicken directly in with onion mixture, otherwise transfer the everything to a baking dish. Toss the chicken with the onion mix and let marinate for up to an hour. Place the chicken in the oven with the lid off until it starts to sizzle (about five minutes). Then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees and cook for another ten minutes. Remove chicken from the oven and let cool.
Shred the chicken breast and toss it with the excess sauce at the bottom of the pan.
Slice the baguette and spread the bottom half with Frog Hollow Farm's Asian Pear chutney. Lay the chicken breast on top of the chutney and garnish with fresh mint leaves.