Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rhubarb Chutney

Recently, I signed up for a cooking class at a Williams Sonoma store. The few people I told about it were a little surprised that I was taking that sort of class, but I had my ulterior motives. First, I had my eye on an item that was a Williams Sonoma exclusive, and members of the class got a 10 percent shopping discount. Second, the price of the class included a cookbook the meal that was being cooked from the book, so once I added it all up, the class was free.

Third, and possibly most important, I wanted to see how the class was run to help me with the demos I've been doing lately. I figured I might pick up a few tips about that, even if I didn't pick up any cooking tips.

The meal was a salad with a breaded and fried round of goat cheese, pork loin with a rhubarb chutney, and ice cream. Honestly, I didn't learn anything new, but I had fun. It's not that often that I hang out with a dozen people who like cooking, so that was definately fun.

The book is nice. It's a Williams Sonomo book called Cooking from the Farmer's Market, and it focuses on using fresh ingredients, which is great. The meal was nice. The fried goat cheese was a nice touch. I might pull that trick out once in a while.

The pork tenderloin was nice, but not amazing. The ice cream was okay, but I'm used to making my own, so I'm pretty hard to impress. Everyone else seemed to like it a lot, though. The rhubarb chutney was my favorite bit though, probably because I don't use rhubarb much. I've had it in pies and cobblers, but usually it's the secondary flavor. It was nice to see it playing a starring role in the chutney.

So when I saw rhubarb at the farmer's market I had to pick some up. And of course, I had to mess with the recipe.

The original recipe required the ever-so-vague 3-4 stalks of rhubarb, which is a pretty useless measurement. Rhubarb stalks can be huge or small, so that made all the rest of the measurements pretty useless as well. But with a recipe like this, you make it to your taste, anyway.

Rhubarb Chutney
Adapted from Cooking from the Farmer's Market

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3-4 stalks of rhubarb
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup walnuts
1/8 teaspoon salt

Or at least that was the original list of ingredients.

I don't like raisins, so they went out the window, and I skipped the nuts as well. I cut the brown sugar and vinegar in half, and eyeballed the rest of my ingredients.

The lemon zest turned into lime zest, because I had lots of limes on hand. The cinnamon stick turned into ground cinnamon. The fresh ginger turned into candied ginger. And I added a small golden mango, chopped, and about 6 dried apricots, chopped.

Basically, the sugar and vinegar gets heated until the sugar melts, then the rhubarb goes in until it starts softening, and then the rest of it goes in until the liquid is mostly gone and it's all nice and soft, but not mush. This is a nice sweet-sour chutney that would fit nicely next to a piece of meat, and it might find a home in a dessert as well, maybe on top of vanilla ice cream.
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