Private dining caterer Catherine Devaney of Harper & Lime shows us how to make the perfect plum chutney to accompany all of our cheeseboards this autumn.
This week I was given a jar of the most sublime plum, ginger and chilli chutney. I know this because, being a stranger to patience, I broke the seal the same day and spooned it generously over some blue cheese.
This breaks the cardinal rule of chutneys, which is that they should be allowed time to mellow and mature, preferably in a dark cupboard under the stairs.
The problem with this plan is that when things disappear into dark cupboards in our house they seldom emerge; my cupboards tend to have a black hole quality which makes them less than ideal resting places for edible substances.
Jane’s chutney was perfect as it was, so perhaps the cardinal rule can be broken.
To make it, halve and stone one kilo of plums and put in a pot with 350g soft brown sugar. Blitz the following ingredients in a food processor: 2 red onions, 2 red chillies, 100ml rice wine vinegar, a stub of root ginger (peeled), a large pinch of cinnamon, three cloves of garlic and 100ml red wine.
Once blitzed, add everything to the pot with the plums and the sugar. Bring it to the boil and simmer until the plums are a mushy consistency and the liquid has reduced to a thick, slightly sticky puree.
Give it the occasional stir, to prevent it sticking. Transfer to sterilised jars and seal. It’s a lovely accompaniment with blue cheese, either something mellow like Strathdon Blue or the punchier Hebridean Blue.
Thinking ahead to winter months it would be a lovely side with hot glazed ham and potato salad.
Another favourite in this house is toasted sourdough with Isle of Kintyre apple smoked cheese, a generous spreading of chutney and some rocket or salad leaves from the garden.
If you pop the cheese under the grill until it bubbles, maybe even adding a slice or two of prosciutto, you have the most delicious lunch.
Or even, as the dark nights beckon, gather round the firepit in the garden, hand out the toasting forks and finish off the meal with a ‘toast your own’ cheese course.