This recipe comes from Joan Chapman, who has won many a prize with her chutneys and vegetables at the Great Bedwyn Village Fête, so we are in very capable hands. Runner beans are long, flattish green beans, often sliced on the diagonal. The more you pick them, the more there seem to be the next day.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that my only real knowledge of chutney before this recipe was that one of the cavemen in those insurance commercials ordered roast duck with mango chutney. A quick glance at Wikipedia told me that chutney is an Indian cousin to relish, and that supposedly the Hindi translation of “to make chutney” is a common idiom meaning “to crush”. This is because the process of making chutney often involves the crushing together of the ingredients. What I do know now is that Mrs. Chapman makes a very fine chutney. So let’s get to it!
Here’s another first for me: runner beans. I’ve always been a fan of green beans, and they were one of the few “green” things I would eat as a child. Runner beans however, are totally new to me, so I was flabbergasted to see them available at a local supermarket. I had already resigned myself into trying to grow them so I could make this recipe, but luck decided to give me a little hand.
The runner beans were cleaned …
… chopped …
… and then blanched in salted water.
While the runner beans cooked, my wife chopped roughly 3/4’s of a pound of shallots for me. I’m not sure how she does it, but the chemical compounds in onions and shallots that make me tear up just do not effect her in the least. To say I’m jealous would be an understatement. The chopped shallots were dropped into a pot with some malt vinegar and softened for a little while.
This is a bowl of Demerara sugar. When I found a bag of it at the supermarket, I almost decided to just pick up a cheaper box of Sugar In The Raw since they are so similar in appearance. To stay true to the recipe, I bought the Demerara. After a bit of research though, I’m not really finding much difference. Oh well. I mixed the Demerara sugar in with the cooked shallots along with some Coleman’s Mustard Powder and some turmeric for color.
The blanched runner beans were added as well, and left to cook for half an hour so that the flavors could get to know each other. Finally, cornstarch was introduced to give the chutney a bit of firmness.
I decanted the chutney into a sterilized jar, and then placed it into a cupboard for a few weeks to sit. Last night, we cracked open the jar to find ourselves with an intensely sweet, tangy chutney with bits of bean that will squeak against your teeth and slightly crunchy shallots that add just the right amount of kick.
Since this is my first chutney, I’m not really sure what to do with it. We’ve been spreading the chutney on slices of bread and eating it like preserves. If anyone has suggestions, I’d be more than happy to run with them.
One down, one hundred to go.