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Caramel-Rhubarb Chutney

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Serves 8 or more
by Chef Didi Davis - From Side Dishes: Creative and Simple

This chutney, a complex union of snappy rhubarb, oranges and raisins, follows the basic formula of cooking all the ingredients together for an hour, but it has the unusual twist of substituting caramel syrup for white sugar.

This chutney improves enormously with an overnight stay in the refrigerator. Serve with broiled swordfish steaks or salmon, shellfish, chicken, lamb, spicy dishes such as curry or Chinese food, and on crackers with Cheddar cheese.

1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup water
Few drops fresh lemon juice
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 medium oranges, peeled
2 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into ½-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup (packed) golden raisins
½ teaspoon Fine Sicilian Sea Salt, or any other high quality sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more as desired

Place 1 cup of the sugar in a small nonreactive saucepan with the water and lemon juice. Heat over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Do not stir or the syrup may crystallize. Boil until the syrup has turned an auburn color, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the vinegar; be careful–the caramel will splatter. Cook over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the caramel, then transfer to a medium nonreactive pan and set aside.

Cut the oranges into ½-inch chunks and add them, with their juice, to the caramel. Add the rhubarb, onion, raisins, Sicilian Sea Salt, cinnamon (if desired), cayenne and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer briskly for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until thickened, stirring often, so the mixture does not burn.

Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. The chutney will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

- Substitute dried strawberries or cherries for the golden raisins.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger.
- Add 1 teaspoon or more mustard seeds.

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