Appetizers

Do a sweet ‘n’ heat change-up with chutneys

Indian-style curries work wonders on an array of foods, from crackers to roasted chicken.
Indian-style curries work wonders on an array of foods, from crackers to roasted chicken. apierleoni@sacbee.com

One slow Sunday, we had plans to stuff a Mary’s-brand free-range chicken with quartered Myer lemons, season the whole bird with whatever compatible rub we happened to find in the cupboard, and cook it hot and fast.

Our new favorite method: Put a cast-iron frying pan into the oven. Bring the oven up to 450 degrees. Remove the hot pan, put the chicken into the pan (hear that sizzle!) and then into the oven. Cook it at 450 for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the bird in the oven for another 30 minutes.

We’ve done it plenty of times, and have always come away a bit....unfulfilled. Sure, the chicken is cooked through (usually) and is tasty enough, but something more is needed. A condiment of some kind to brush over the chicken as it sits cooling on the kitchen counter. Something to spoon onto the plates and use as a dip.

We found the answer at Whole Foods in Folsom while curiously cruising the “sauce aisle.” Neera’s-brand Indian-style Tomato Mint ($6.99) and Pear Cardamon ($7.39) chutneys added just the right sweet ‘n’ heat to the roasted chicken. Go with the Tomato Mint if you favor more heat than sweet, or use the Pear Cardomon for vice-versa.

The labels say the chutneys go well with other dishes, too: pork loin, lamb, pasta, sandwiches. Use them as marinades and salad dressings, or mix them with orange juice and bourbon for a ham glaze. Or, heck, spoon them onto crackers and serve that as an appetizer with glasses of red vino. Or just eat them straight out of the jar with a spoon...

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

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