Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lost, then Found

I have only the most vague recollection of having snipped the recipe from the newspaper, an event that probably happened some 20 years ago. I'll never forget, however, the panic at realizing the directions for the single-most important part of my Thanksgiving feast -- my savory, jewel-toned cranberry-apple chutney -- was missing, and that even a friend with whom I share such treasures also could not find it.

I spent several years trying to recreate this lost gem with very mixed success. In the days before Google, locating an unsourced recipe was a mostly fruitless challenge. Thankfully, I finally found a copy I'd saved electronically, and promptly taped it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet.

This year, however, during a fit of purging old magazines and boxes of dusty clippings, I came across the original, yellowed with age and spotted with the evidence of past holidays. It was almost like finding a forgotten childhood photo. The kind where you actually look good.

Suffice it to say, as many times as I've made this, it's easier to get it right when you've got the directions in front of you. I've changed it a bit: a Granny Smith apple instead of a Jonathan; the zest of a lemon; more nuts and no cloves. I've also used fresh apple cider instead of water. Watching it transform from bright chunks into into a deep-hued jam is lovely thing, and the thought of not only enjoying  it with the tomorrowq's dinner but also later dolloped on sandwiches is, for me, proof that Thanksgiving is worth every bit of effort.


3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups raw cranberries (not frozen)
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup diced walnuts

In a large saucepan, stir together brown sugar, water, lemon juice and zest, salt and spices; stir over medium heat to combine. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Cool about 10 minutes then check for flavor balance. If too tangy, add more brown sugar or a spoonful of honey; mix well. Refrigerate, ideally at least 24 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.

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