Saturday, September 13, 2014

Branston Pickle



This is an essential ingredient for a traditional Ploughman's lunch, which used to be a standard item on the menu when I was a student in Cambridge. It is not quite a chutney.  The pieces are much bigger than one would expect in a chutney, and the flavour is quite robust and complex.

 For this recipe, there is quite a long list of ingredients - so I would recommend you get them all together before you start.  Another piece of advice - you have to actually enjoy the remedial action of chopping things - otherwise you need to have one of those machines that do it for you - otherwise you will start stabbing yourself or something.

Don't be alarmed by the high volume of vegetables and other ingredients, as compared to the amount of liquid.  Someone it all seems to sort itself out.

There are a number of recipes on the web.  I have tried most of them and in my opinion, this one is the best.  This one comes from Delia online - but it isn't a Delia recipe.  It is one which an admirer has placed on her website. I would love to thank him or her for it - but they are steadfastly anonymous. But thank you - whoever you are!  Its a super recipe.

OK!  Lets go


Ingredients

250g carrots
150g turnips or beetroot (ideally swede - but we almost never have that here)
250g cauliflower
250g onions
200g courgettes
6 cloves of garlic
50g dried apricots
75g seedless raisins
50g seeded dates
200 Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)
50g small cocktail gherkins (I use pickled ones)
225g dark brown sugar (treacle sugar if possible)
1t salt
60ml lemon juice
650ml cider vinegar
50ml molasses (or malt extract)
1T Worcestershire sauce
2t black mustard seeds
5 green chillis
1t cumin powder
2t ground allspice
1t ground black pepper
2T Cornflour (the original recipe calls for 1T arrowroot, which I have no idea where to get!)
Caramel colouring (I have no idea where to get this, so I use caramel flavouring instead.  The object of the colouring, I gather,  is to get the mixture as dark as posssible.)

Method

Chop all the ingredients into 2.5mm cubes if you want to use as a sandwich spread or a bit bigger if not.  Mix everything, apart from the colouring and cornflower into a large pan.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for about one and a half - two hours, or until the harder ingredients have softened to your liking. (I like them a bit crunchy).

Take some of the vinegar and add to a small bowl containing the cornflour.  (If the mixture is looking a bit dry after the cooking - just use additional vinegar.)  Add this mixture to the paan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

Bottle in sterilized jars (preferably with plastic lids) and leave to stand at least for a month before using.  In a cool, dark place, it will keep for a year or longer, improving in flavour with time.

It is absolutely wonderful with strong flavoured cheese.  I have also loved it with chicken, on a sandwich.

Warning: Once you are hooked on this stuff, you will aversion therapy, or something similar, to get off it!

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