Walnuts and pears say classic English Christmas to me. I envision this Spiced Pear and Walnut Chutney served along with some sharp farmhouse cheddar and oat biscuits, or spooned on top of baked brie. It makes the kitchen smell like spiced cider.
The chutney takes on a deep brownish tone from fresh walnuts. If you want to reduce that look and get a paler golden tone, use packaged walnuts, and add them to the chutney after it’s cooked. I like the dusky look of it, though.
Walnuts right out of the shell are one of the great pleasures of holiday season eating. They are so crunchy and the flavor is much richer than you get from the pre-packaged nuts. I don’t have a nutcracker so I just used a small hammer to bash them open.
Fresh pears are so cheap right now, and I get double duty out of them—first I display them in a bowl to enjoy their beauty for a few days, and then, when they start to get fragrant and soft, I cook with them.
Spiced Pear and Walnut Chutney
- 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 4 cardamom pods, cracked
- about 5 ripe pears, any variety, peeled and rough chopped, about 4 cups, after chopping
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts
- In a heavy bottomed pot toast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds and cardamom pods for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan constantly.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and mix well. If your pears have very little natural juice you may need a little water to get it started. Bring to a bubble, then turn the heat down and continue boiling for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the chutney is reduced and thick. I cover the pot for the first half, then uncover. Just keep cooking until the chutney is as thick as you want it to be. It will firm up a little more as it cools.
- Fish out the star anise and fill a small jar or jars with the chutney, and let cool completely. Cover tightly and refrigerate until needed. You can keep the chutney for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
- Try my Spicy Mango Persimmon Chutney for another fall inspired recipe.
- This recipe could be done with apples, too.