Chutney, Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Picante, Relish......What's the difference? It is a little confusing and they are similar in many ways, especially when you can take Salsa and quickly make it into Chutney simply by putting it on the stove. You can, in turn, take Salsa and by mincing up the elements in it a little smaller, you have Relish. Now when you take Salsa and put it on the stove AND add some spicy heat to it, you have Picante.
In essence, Chutney is a condiment that has fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. It is originally from India and can be either chunky or smooth. Like Salsa, it can be prepared anywhere from very sweet to very 'heated'. Generally, it is cooked on the stove-top and believe it or not, it does not have to be cooked to be Chutney, although it is classically.
Many people associate Relish with burgers and dogs. This condiment also has chopped fruits, vegetables with a little sauce thrown in. What usually sets Relish apart from the others is that they are pickled. Be it cucumbers, fruit or other vegetables a pickling spice or liquid binds everything together. Now many people will argue that both Chutney and Relish are different because one has fruit while the other has vegetables. While this is basically correct, in a very broad sense, nowadays, everyone is putting everything into each, so this difference is now almost extinct.
A side of Salsa is based on tomato and some type of 'chili' heat.(Like my play on words? Again, no laureate here)This 'sauce' has minced or rough-cut tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers of all kinds as well as just as many ways of heating it up with spices.
Picante Sauce literally means 'hot' or 'spicy'. A hot sauce made from ground chili peppers, it can be added to Salsa, as well as a myriad other dishes, to heighten the spicy factor many folds.
When you chop the vegetables for your Salsa more roughly, or larger, and add more cilantro with some lemon or lime juice, you end up with Pico de Gallo. This is not to say that Salsa isn't made that way, but.........well, I am at a loss for words, now even I am tired of trying to expound the differences. So let me show you my favorite.....whatever you want to call them!
Yankee Cranberry-Fruited Chutney
I absolutely love this Chutney during the summer just enjoyed on the side when I am served(yeah, that's right, served. I don't do ALL the cooking)a huge slab of highly seasoned steak.
1/2 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 package (12-ounce) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
1 small chili pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
In a large saucepan, add every single ingredient. Yes, EVERYTHING! Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low, leave uncovered, and simmer about 18-20 minutes, or until it begins to thicken: stirring frequently. If you want thicker chutney(with a more intense flavor)let it continue simmering until it is the consistency you prefer. It will thicken upon standing. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature before transferring to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold and ready to serve. It's Just That Simple!
Tart to Sweet Apple Relish
This Relish is a flavorful range of the tartest apple to the sweetest, with the great texture of an Asian Pear. Pour this relish atop of chicken before covering to bake and you have yourself a chicken that will stand out among the rest.
1 Granny Smith apple, 1 Asian Pear, 1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dried craisins
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1-inch slice of fresh ginger, grated*
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Dill, for garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-22 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency of jelly or preserves. Make sure you stir quite often to prevent scorching on bottom. Remove from heat to cool to room temperature before transferring to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed. It will thicken upon standing.
*The best way to do this is to peel down one inch of a fresh ginger-root and grate on the larger of the two holes on a grater.
New England Tomato Chutney
Traditionally, Chutney's are made by mortar and pestle. Crushed together in this manner is fantastic but I like mine chunkier. This Chutney is great served on the side with some cold cuts of meat and vegetables. Add some crackers, cheese and some crusty slices of bread and you will be munching on this all day.
4 tomatoes, cored and wedged
1 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
Over high heat, add all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-22 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency of very thick jelly or preserves. Make sure you stir quite often to prevent scorching on bottom. Remove from heat to cool to room temperature before transferring to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed. It will thicken upon standing.
Many of you have asked me over the past winter what apple is best for what, which is the most tart while which is the sweetest. Although it is subjective in a sense, here is my list of apples ranging from the most tart to the sweetest to me personally.
The tartest of the tart-Granny Smith
Picture compliments of Nicole Koehler
Granny Smith, Winesap, Northern Spy, Puritan, Rome, Paula Red, Ida Red, Jersey Mac, Cortland, Paula Red, Macoun, Northern Spy, Empire, Pink Lady, Baldwin, Winesap, Braeburn, Rome, Empire, Jonathan, Cortland, Spartan, Pippin, MacIntosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Pippin, Redcort, Cameo, Fuji, Crispin (Mutsu), Liberty, Jonagold, July Red, Honey Crisp, Quinti, Gala, Spencer, Sonya and the sweetest(to me) is the Fuji.
The Sweetest of the sweet-Fuji