Thursday, February 2, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Roasted: Meyer Lemon Chutney

The only time I ever made chutney, it turned out like a dessert sauce that some absent-minded cook had accidently mucked up with onions and vinegar. Not cool, or at least not my style. I wasn’t going to be the next great lover of chutney. When I saw this recipe at 101 Cookbooks, however, I just knew things would change. For one thing, this chutney isn’t made of berries and garlic.

It’s mostly made of lemons, but there’s a twist. Those lemons are sliced and roasted, then blended with shallots, olive oil, and just a bit of honey. I could just imagine it: slightly caramelized lemon flesh, juice, and rind, a little sharp bite from the shallots, as much honey as I wanted so it wouldn’t be too sour. Then I got the idea of trying it with Meyer lemons, which are a cross between a lemon and an orange and taste like super-sour oranges.

The Meyer lemons worked beautifully. They did release some juice while roasting that promptly caramelized and charred, so you’ll definitely want to line your baking pan with something disposable or with a silicone mat (although the charred juice was even difficult to get off my Silpat). I also used less shallot in my version, simply out of laziness. The original recipe called for the shallots to be soaked in cold water to tame their harshness. I wanted to skip that step, and I figured that including fewer shallots would also be less harsh, so that’s what I did. This exposes me as a lazy cook, but it made fine Roasted Meyer Lemon Chutney.

I ended up blending the ingredients long enough that the lemon juice and generous amount of olive oil emulsified, creating something like a chunky, tart, and slightly bitter mock mayonnaise. It’s creamy and loaded with pure but slightly caramelized Meyer lemon flavor, pleasantly tart and not so fruity that the shallots and olive oil clash negatively. It’s wonderfully delicious and surprisingly easy to make. (The hardest part for me was poking the seeds out of the lemon slices.)

Another reason I hadn’t become a chutney-lover was that I couldn’t find anything particularly satisfactory to do with it. Such has not been the case with this one. It is good spread on crackers, mixed with cream cheese and spread on celery sticks (and more crackers), and slathered on a chicken salad sandwich or a deli chicken sandwich. I didn’t add any herbs, but think it would be good with the basil or mint suggested in the recipe with which I started, or a pinch of finely minced rosemary. I’d also like to try it folded into hot rice (perhaps basmati or jasmine?) or in the dressing of a potato salad (like this one), or stirred into an aioli for dipping roasted vegetables. And could I make this with other citrus fruits: oranges, limes, or tangerines? Kumquats perhaps?

And so I can say that my life has indeed been changed for the better with this delicious chutney recipe. I may now give other chutney recipes a try and become a chutney evangelist! I hope I don’t become too annoying.

Roasted Meyer Lemon Chutney
Adapted from this recipe at 101 Cookbooks where it was adapted from All About Roasting by Molly Stevens

This is a good place to use organic lemons, but if you can’t, be sure to scrub your lemons well to remove any residues.

You could use regular lemons here. Since they will probably be larger, I suggest using just 3, or about 15-20 ounces total.

4 Meyer lemons (about 3 ounces or 90 grams each)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about ½ ounce or 15 grams, or one small shallot)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon (about 2 heavy pinches) coarse salt, plus more to taste
a few grinds of black pepper from a pepper mill (or a pinch of ground pepper)
¼ cup (about 60 ml) olive oil (preferably extra-virgin), plus more for brushing the lemon slices

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (about 205 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the paper or mat with a thin layer of olive oil.

2. Cut 1 lemon in half and set it aside. Cut about ¼ inch off each end of the remaining 3 lemons and discard those ends. Cut the 3 lemons into slices about ½ inch thick. Remove any seeds from the lemon slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the oiled and lined baking sheet. Brush the lemons with more olive oil

3. Place the lemons in the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the lemon slices over and roast about 10 minutes more. If any begin to brown, remove them from the pan. Continue to roast until the lemons are very tender and have just a few brown spots. Remove the roasted lemons from the pan and set aside to cool.

4. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, place them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the shallots and honey. Pulse the processor several times until the lemons are coarsely chopped.

5. Add the juice from ½ of the lemon you set aside earlier plus the salt, pepper, and olive oil. Process until the chutney is creamy, but there are still some visible lemon chunks. Taste the chutney and add salt, pepper, honey or lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a small bowl or storage container and let stand for at least 2 hours.

Makes 1 ¼- 1 ½ cups. Best served at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers, which will last for several days.

Another recipe like this one: Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette

One year ago: Beer Cheese Soup with Bratwurst (sniff, sniff…no Packer Super Bowl this year)

Two years ago: Potatoes Anna with Hidden Beets

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