Here's my Thanksgiving grocery list:
Turkey ... check
Pumpkin ... check
Green beans ... check
Cranberries ... check
Figs ... figs?
Yes, figs. They're as essential to my Thanksgiving cooking as the other, more predictable ingredients on my list. That's because I can't make cranberry fig chutney without them.
I've been making this recipe, with a few tweaks, since it was published in Bon Appetit more than 20 years ago. The chutney is beautiful on the table and delicious on the plate. But don't stop there -- it's excellent with ham and chicken, and a sandwich of leftover turkey, brie and cranberry fig chutney cannot be beat.
If you have a food processor, pull it out for this recipe. If not, you'll spend some time chopping, but I think you'll find the results well worth the effort.
Make the chutney at least 24 hours before you serve it. If you taste it when it finishes cooking, you'll probably think it's awful. The flavors will be sharp and unpleasant. But let the ingredients meld, and the magic happens.
CRANBERRY FIG CHUTNEY
Yield: 1 quart; about 16 servings
1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large or 8 small dried figs, stemmed and chopped
1 orange, washed well and dried, chopped and seeded (do not peel)
2 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Wash berries; drain well. Discard any soft berries. Transfer to a medium nonaluminum saucepan. Add remaining ingredients.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until all the berries pop, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Ladle into clean jars; cover with lids. Let sit at room temperature until cool, then refrigerate for up to 6 weeks.
• If using a thin-skinned orange, chop the entire orange, including the white pith. If the orange has a thick layer of pith, you might want to remove the colored portion of the peel (the zest) with a vegetable peeler or paring knife, then cut off and discard the pith. Chop the zest and the orange.
• To prepare ingredients with a food processor, follow this sequence: Chop ginger; measure and add to pan. Chop onion; measure and add to pan. Process figs with about 2 tablespoons of the sugar until chopped (the sugar prevents sticking); add to pan. Process orange until chopped; add to pan along with the remaining ingredients.
• This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a large stockpot.