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Monday, December 23, 2013

Jewish Cranberry Holiday Chutney

When I lived in Northern Virginia, one of my absolute favorite  places to eat was Chutzpah (HOOTZ pah) Deli in Fairfax.  It is a delicious New York-style Jewish deli owned by former New Yorkers who just love cooking and serving up great food.  The food is hearty, and tastes like someone's grandma is cooking in the kitchen, portions are huge, and quality is great.  It's the type of food that you'd be proud to serve your family. 

Well, one of my favorite dishes from Chutzpah was their open-faced brisket and gravy sandwich with mashed potatoes and cranberry chutney.  Talk about gooooood!  Inspired by Chutzpah and a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, New Kosher Cuisine, by Mollie Katzen, this recipe is a real hit with everyone who is fortunate enough to try it.  It's fresh, it's healthy, and it has just the right touch of cinnamon to make you feel warm and cozy, and loved by someone special.  Try it for yourself, and it's sure to be a real hit!  This recipe alone is the reason why I stock up on fresh cranberries to freeze so that I can enjoy this deliciousness year round.

"How do I eat it?" and "what do I eat it with?" you might ask.  Well, you can eat it with your turkey if you feel so inclined, but I love it by itself as a snack or an after-dinner treat.  I love it on my holiday plate as a side, and I love it as a healthy snack with lunch.  In the Jewish deli, it's sold alongside hearty sandwiches.  You can enjoy this dish sweet or savory, and even with your morning oatmeal or yogurt.  I am not a cranberry sauce person, even when it's good cranberry sauce, but this is just a dream-of-a-dish.  It's a simple way to wow anyone at your next family gathering.  It is truly fabulous on a plate and, for me, the only reason to stockpile those bags of fresh holiday cranberries in your freezer to enjoy a taste of this dish all year round.  If you can't cook, you will shock them and prove them all wrong if you show up with this very special treat.  Well, enough talking...get cooking!

Jewish Cranberry Chutney
1 bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
about 2 c sugar (taste it as you add.  It should still be tart.)
Scant ½ c combo of tangerine, orange or fresh pineapple juice* (I find just 2-3 TB works better)
1 cinnamon stick
1c coarsely chopped walnuts
About 1-1/2 c chopped fresh pineapple
Segments from 3 tangerines (you will use their juice above)

1. Place first 4 ingredients in a pot over low to medium -low heat.  Be sure to add sugar in portions, as you may need less, depending on sweetness of fruit.  You want the end result to be tangy, not flat and all sweet only. 
2. Allow to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until cranberries burst.  Don't rush the process by turning up the heat, or your cranberries will be tough and bitter.
3. Remove the cinnamon stick.
4. Stir in pineapple, tangerine, and walnuts.
5. Refrigerate until cool and serve or freeze for later use.

Note: This has great shelf life if you can keep yourself from eating it!

This is a great recipe to play around with.  Substitute pecans for the walnuts.  Use pineapple or orange juice instead of tangerine.  Use canned mandarins instead of fresh citrus.  Use cloves or allspice in place of cinnamon stick.  This is a super versatile and forgiving recipe.  Have fun with it!


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