Saturday, March 9, 2013

Whiskey-Apricot Chutney

The Setting: Back in Nashville for a few days! It's amazing how 50 degrees (F.) feels like swimsuit weather when you're used to 5-below and snowstorms.

The Soundtrack: Something on the Food Network.

Steaming up the Oven: Nothing today. Waffle House for Breakfast and Which Wich for lunch!

The Scenario: A savory-sweet spread gets all spiked up.

In my previous life as a specialty-foods buyer for a major retail chain, my eyes were opened to the sweet and salty, slightly spicy and subtly sour world of chutneys and their surprising affinity for cheese.

If you want to elevate a block of cheddar, for instance, from a mid-day snack to an appetizer fit for company, pair it with Virginia Chutney's Spicy Plum or Hot Peach, and watch as guests go back for more.

I thought I'd put a Tennessee spin on this classic old-country condiment with the unexpected addition of Lynchburg's finest. The whiskey cooks down considerably, deepening the flavor and leaving a subtle warmth with no harsh bite.

Use Irish whiskey (if you prefer) and pair with Irish cheddar and soda bread for a hearty St. Patrick's Day snack, or puree with a drizzle of soy sauce anytime for an incredible (and impressive) pot-sticker dipping sauce or glaze for chicken or pork.

Whiskey-Apricot Chutney
1/2  cup whiskey
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 small onion, chopped
2 T butter
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
the juice from half a lemon

In a small bowl or cup, soak the apricots in the whiskey. Set aside.

Add the onion, butter, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to a nonstick skillet over med-high heat.

Once the butter has melted and the onions have begun to soften, give the mixture a stir, add the brown sugar to the top, cover, and cook 20 minutes over med-low heat, stirring once halfway through.

Uncover, remove from heat, and stir in the salt, lemon juice, and the apricots along with the whiskey.

Return to med-high heat and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the remaining liquid looks like syrup.

Let cool before transferring to an airtight container to store in the fridge. Store the chutney this way for up to two weeks.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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