Controversial statement: the best character on Friends is Chandler Bing, but only between seasons 1 and 4. During the first part of the show's run, he was a Woody Allen-esque hyper self-critical schmuck, hapless but ultimately good-natured. Once he starts dating Monica, I guess the producers decided that he was best served as a man-accessory and all significant character development is removed. Because what else do you do when characters get married and boring to maintain viewership? Have everyone get crazy! And thus they become exaggerated caricatures (OCD! Smoking! Baby crazy! Dog hating!) of the lovable poor decision-making fools they once were.
So in very last Thanksgiving episode of Friends ("The One with the Late Thanksgiving"), Chandler's story arch centers around the flaccid unitask that his wife allowed him to contribute - the cranberry sauce. He rises and falls by the cranberry sauce, traditionally the lamest of the Thanksgiving condiments, since there's nothing else for him to do. And that was me this past Thanksgiving.
As I mentioned before, I arrived very very late on Thanksgiving Eve and was set to be exhaustingly busy on Thanksgiving morning, so the cranberry sauce was my only contribution. And it needed to sing! So we have spicy cranberry chutney - a tart and peppery sauce to cut through and enhance your sweet and mushy holiday sides. I've since added it to eggs, turkey and ham sandwiches, burritos, and I'm told the leftovers were also incorporated into a baked brie. Because if you only have one thing to offer, it better go the distance. Assuming of course, it doesn't get used up in a gratuitous physical gag.
Spicy Cranberry Chutney
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated (via The Bitten Word for those without a subscription like myself)
Makes 3 cups (750mL)
Total time: 90 minutes (Active time 10 minutes)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (one with seeds and one without)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) water
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) cider vinegar
- 1 cup (220g) packed brown sugar
- 12 oz (340g) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 green or yellow apple, shredded on a box grater and peels removed
Add water, vinegar, and sugar. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add half of the cranberries and the grated apple and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have almost completely broken down and mixture has thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
Add remaining cranberries and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to burst, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Keeps just fine refrigerated for several weeks. Travels well.