For me, there is a reassurance and a comfort that comes with Christmas dinner traditions.
You know that, like them or loathe them, brussels sprouts will be served (and I, for the record, love them), while you will always clear a special spot on your plate for the yuletide favourite that are roasties.
My Da, though, couldn’t help but ask the question as he saw the spuds being peeled yesterday:
“Are ye making roast potatoes?” says he.
As if it would be Christmas dinner without.
But things change, too. In little ways. Every year.
This past summer, as I cooked my way through a bumper redcurrant crop, I made a chutney that seemed destined for the Christmas table. It might have usurped the cranberry sauce, though, in true Christmas spirit, there was room at the inn for both.
This is really a kind of spiced jam, with definite savoury applications – good with the likes of a Christmas ham, but also excellent served ploughman-style with some mature cheddar, goat’s cheese or stilton. I realise that it’s not exactly the season for redcurrants, though you could certainly consider making this if you had a frozen stash of same. Otherwise, file it away for use with next summer’s bounty.
It’s based somewhat on a recipe for pickled redcurrants which I found here, though the spicing is a little different. The amounts I’ve used are small, but you can easily make double or more if you have a lot of redcurrants to use and it will, of course, keep for months.
- 400g redcurrants
- 200g sugar
- 2 tblsp red wine vinegar
- 0.5 tsp gnd ginger
- 0.5 tsp gnd allspice
You’ll also need:
- Jars, wax seals and lids for approx. 250ml chutney
- Start by preparing the jars. Turn your oven on to 140C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and sterilise, either by boiling in water for 10 minutes and then drying in the oven or just by keeping the jars in the oven for at least 30 minutes before using.
- In a large saucepan, combine the redcurrants and sugar. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the redcurrants are starting to burst.
- Add the red wine vinegar, ginger and allspice. Simmer for around another 30 minutes, the mixture should reduce by about half.
- Pour the chutney into the hot, sterilised jars, to within 3mm of the tops. Seal with a wax disc and cover with lids which have been dipped in boiling water. Store for at least a couple of weeks in a cool, dark place before using and do set some aside for Christmas use.
- Vary the spices according to your taste – you can try other warm spices like cinnamon and/or cloves here.
- 250ml chutney