Recipe: Spicy Rhubarb-Strawberry Chutney with Chicken

Jun 24, 2016

Chutneys are one of the glories of Indian cookery. They can take from minutes to hours of cooking time and they offer all sorts of tastes. Fruits of all kinds find their way into chutneys. Some can be made into preserves, like sweet tomato chutney, bottled and kept indefinitely. Others are thick sauces and are eaten fresh with meats, vegetables, or fish.

Spicy Rhubarb-Strawberry Chutney with Chicken

This chutney cooks in just a few minutes. So while it’s cooling, cook the chicken. Dinner will be ready in 30 minutes. You can make the chutney a day or two ahead and refrigerate it. Cole slaw is excellent with this dish.

The Chutney
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups diced red onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 pound)
2 cups strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (8 ounces)

6 bone-in and skin on chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme sprigs, a generous amount

For the chutney, put the olive oil into a large skillet and set the pan over medium heat. When hot, stir in the red onion and pour on the red wine vinegar. Stir well and cook about 5 minutes, until onion is almost tender. The vinegar keeps the onion a vibrant red-purple.

    Add the ginger, garlic, sriracha, and salt, and cook about 1 minute, stirring. Add the honey, orange zest, and orange juice and mix them in. Dump in the rhubarb, give everything a big stir or two, and cover the pan. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, just until the rhubarb starts to break up. Add the strawberries, stir, and cover the pan again. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, just until the berries soften.
    Uncover the pan and cook at a low boil, stirring, until the chutney has thickened slightly and holds its shape in a spoon. This will take just a minute or two. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Taste carefully and adjust seasoning if necessary. The chutney should be tart. Please don’t be tempted to add more sweetening.
Makes about 3 cups chutney.

For the chicken, trim away any excess fat. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Put the olive oil into a large skillet and set the pan over medium heat. When hot, swirl the pan to coat the bottom with the oil, and add the chicken thighs skin side down. Cook about 5 minutes without moving the chicken, until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Take the pan off the heat and add a few fresh thyme sprigs onto each thigh. Press the thyme into the chicken and flip the thighs over with tongs so their skin sides are up. Put the skillet into the oven. Bake about 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave the chicken in the pan.

    To serve individually, place a thigh skin side up on a dinner plate, and spoon a generous dollop of chutney on the side. To serve at the table, arrange the chicken on a heated platter and top each thigh with a spoonful of chutney. Pass extra chutney in a bowl in case people want more.

Makes 6 servings.

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