Ask Peter: Roast feijoa and manuka chutney
We recently finished the last of a batch of roasted red onion and feijoa chutney which I made in 2014. Sooo delicious! I searched through all my recipe files but was unable to find the recipe then, in a recent Bite you made mention of it. You must have published it somewhere at some stage as it is exactly as I remember making it, but I don’t know the quantities. Could have a guess but making chutney is such a mission I’d hate to get it wrong and waste all that effort and money. If you know where I could find the recipe could you guide me to it please? I would be forever grateful. Janey
I’ve been hunting for the recipe in my files and finally found this from 2000. I can almost taste it — the lovely grainy texture of the feijoas, mingled with the spicy sweetness of the caramelised onions and vinegar. If you can’t find black cardamom (which isn’t actually a true cardamom, and it has a lovely smoky, woody flavour) then increase the star anise to nine, or add any spice you like yourself. The spices in here add a warm background flavour which is wonderful, but a little more or less won’t hurt. By cooking this in the oven you get a flavour quite different to making it in a large pot — but by all means cook it in a saucepan if you’d prefer. The more surface area in the roasting dishes the better as the liquid evaporates so much faster. The roasting causes the onions and feijoas to caramelise in quite a different way to when you saute or boil them, and your kitchen will smell wonderful every time you open the oven door. However, just be aware that the steam it produces can also make your glasses fog up!
I’d never used manuka wood as an ingredient before making this and I added it because I was curious to know whether it would impart a flavour to the chutney. Manuka honey, wood-smoking over manuka, and walking through manuka bush all impart a strong aroma and flavour, as does brewing billy tea using the leaves and twigs when camping in the bush. I figured I’d simply add some to the mixture and see what happened, and it was an experiment worth doing. I guess it’s like adding bay leaves to a recipe: you get added flavour and depth.
You can also make this chutney using stonefruit, pineapple or even apples, pears and quince. You can add extra ginger and red chillies to make it something suitable to serve on a lamb burger or with grilled pork chops. It’s quite a grunty, powerful chutney so I’d avoid serving it with delicate fish, although it’d go well with grilled oily salmon or kahawai — just don’t serve too much. I hope it’s as you remember it!