Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My kitchen: a study in purple

I'd purchased a bag of beetroot at a local vege shop over the weekend, since which time it has sat in my kitchen, mutely reminding me of my intention to make beetroot chutney (p229). By Tuesday night, I figured I'd put it off for long enough.

I began by boiling the beetroot for about half an hour. At the end of this time, the skins should have slipped neatly off in the way they always do for TV chefs. Of course, when I tried it, the skins just came off in bits and pieces, some sticking, some coming away easily. I ended up scraping a lot of it away with a spoon.

This took considerably longer than I'd expected, and by the time I had all the skins off the beetroot I also had purple splatters and bits of beetroot all over my kitchen.

Luckily, the next step did not take long at all, thanks to my trusty food processor: I bunged the beetroot in, along with some onions, and in a few moments I had a food processor full of vibrantly coloured, eye-wateringly oniony, purple mush. That might not sound appealing, but it's exactly what I was aiming for.

Tipping the purple mush into a large saucepan, I added malt vinegar and brought the mixture to the boil, cooking until the onion had softened up a bit. I confess I didn't linger too long on this step; having chopped the onion so finely, I could hardly identify it among the beetroot to decide if it was cooked or not.

The next additions were sugar, salt, pepper, ginger and allspice. Except when I got out the packet of allspice I'd grabbed from the supermarket, I found I'd actually got whole allspice instead of ground. Sighing, I grabbed my pestle and mortar to grind up a small amount.

This mixture bubbled away on the stove as I prepared jars and attempted to clean up the beetroot splatter from my benchtops, walls, floor, cupboards and dishrack. Finally, I mixed up a paste of flour and malt vinegar, and stirred it through the chutney mixture.

I was supposed to boil the chutney for a full five minutes after adding the paste, but when I discovered a small patch in the bottom of the pan where it was beginning to burn, I took it off immediately. With the memory of my burnt tamarillo jam still fresh in my mind, I wasn't going to risk doing that again.

Carefully avoiding any that may have come into contact with the burnt area, I ladled the chutney into my prepared jars. My half-recipe of the chutney filled three jars: more than enough for my purposes. I'll have to leave it for a while before trying it out - at present it mostly tastes of vinegar, but the flavour ought to develop after a few weeks.

So that's another chutney crossed off my list. I'm going to have a cupboard full of the stuff before I'm done!

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