Have you decided what to make for Thanksgiving, yet?
If not, may I suggest a few desserts from my cookbook, namely the chai-spiced squash pie (Wintersweet, page 175) or, for the gluten-averse, sweet potato flan (page 182)? Me, I might make gingerbread cake for a crowd (page 48) and dress it up with some sugared cranberries (page 120). Or perhaps I’ll try something completely new.
In the meantime, here’s a Thanksgiving-appropriate appetizer that recently stole my heart: mustardy rhubarb chutney. The recipe is from Marisa McClellan’s book Preserving by the Pint, and, though rhubarb is well out of season here, I happily found a jar in the pantry that I made back in the spring. You can still find rhubarb here and there (Russo’s had a small supply if you dare set foot on the premises this week), or maybe you stashed some in the freezer.
At any rate, this recipe makes a fantastic impression. Warm some goat cheese, spread it on your favorite crackers (rosemary crisps would be perfect), and then top with a dollop of rhubarb chutney. This concoction isn’t sweet like rhubarb pie, it’s distinctly savory. A hit of vinegar makes it tart and snappy. And, despite its summer provenance, it tastes just like fall.
Consider doubling the recipe and giving some as gifts. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper (in the Boston area, try Formaggio Kitchen or any of Ana Sortun’s establishments like Sofra), you can sub in hot pepper flakes or a lesser amount of cayenne to taste.
1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, minced
3/4 cup dried currants
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a wide, nonreactive pan, place it over high heat, and bring it to a boil. Once it bubbles, lower the heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring regularly, until slightly thickened. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir more often (at least once a minute) to prevent scorching. The chutney is done when you can drag your spoon along the bottom of the pan and the chutney is thick enough that the space doesn’t fill in immediately.
Funnel the chutney into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Click here for more information on canning.) If you prefer not to can, store the chutney in the refrigerator and prepare to eat it all within 1 month.
Source: Adapted minimally from Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan