- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hot, sweet and tangy — this is the enticing flavor combination that fruit chutney delivers. No wonder it’s so popular.

If chutney is just an accent to Indian carryout at your house, you’re shortchanging your menus. The cooked combination of fruit, vegetables and spices enhances any food, including plain chicken breasts and pork chops.

Chutney also can be used to rescue you from those little kitchen mistakes. For example, if you accidentally leave a steak on the grill a little too long, slather it with chutney. You won’t notice the texture of the meat when the taste is so dazzling.

Chutney is easy to find in the supermarket: It’s usually grouped with other ethnic ingredients. A basic recipe is almost as easy to make. If you can chop a few ingredients, then you can make chutney that’s zestier than what’s available in a jar.

Or to simplify, prepare a chutney as part of an entree. Simmer fruit and spices with pork, poultry or seafood. The meat will stay moist and soak up the spices and fruit flavors.

Some winning combinations include pork with mangos or nectarines, chicken with plums or peaches, and shrimp or halibut with pears.

In the following recipe, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are simmered with a serrano chili, spices and scallions. Peach nectar enhances the fruit taste, but substitute additional chicken broth if you prefer. Serve this dish with couscous or rice, or try the couscous with walnuts recipe that follows.

Chicken thighs with peach chutney

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 medium-large chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 serrano chili, cored, seeded and minced, or 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

cup peach nectar

cup chicken broth

2 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

cup chopped scallions

Couscous with walnuts (recipe follows)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Dust the chicken with flour, and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the skillet. Brown the chicken on one side for 2 minutes.

Turn the chicken over, and add the chili or pepper flakes. Brown 2 minutes. Remove the chicken. Add the peach nectar, and deglaze the skillet. Add the chicken broth and sliced peaches.

Return chicken to the skillet. Add the curry powder and ginger. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the scallions; simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over couscous with walnuts. Makes 2 servings.

COUSCOUS WITH WALNUTS:

1 cup instant couscous

11/4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Combine couscous and chicken broth in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and set aside 5 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Fluff couscous with a fork, and sprinkle it with the walnuts. Makes 2 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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