The most appealing thing about chutneys, to me, is the sheer symphony of flavors it’s possible to combine into one humble, easy-to-execute food. For the home cook without much experience, a chutney is a great place to start.


  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 4 ripe figs, cut into wedges
  • 1 mild chile pepper (i recommend a banana pepper or a poblano), seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup / 65 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup / 70 milliliters red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tblsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup / 120 grams fresh cranberries, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, heat the over medium heat. Cook the onion until it has softened, and is beginning to become transparent, and stops steaming, stirring often. Once softened, add the fig wedges and chopped chile pepper, and stir well. Add the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cranberries and lower the heat, then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fig wedges and cranberries are soft enough to smash easily with a fork. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Ladle into hot, sterilized jars (see page 000), leaving a 1/2-inch / 1.3-centimeter headspace, and seal using the hot water bath (see page 000) for 5 minutes. This should keep for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place, if properly sealed.


Makes about 31/2 cups / 700 milliliters chutney.

This recipe, and more great recipes from Noel, can be found in his new book The Irish Pantry: Traditional Breads, Preserves and Goodies to Feed the Ones You Love by Noel McMeel with Lynn Marie Hulsman.

Noel says, " While I love the following recipe for its balance, I give you full permission to color outside the lines: Feel free to improvise and put your personal mark on the dish, because a few ounces of this or a teaspoon of that can’t harm the integrity of this sweet-and-sour condiment. Chutneys keep for ages because of the preserving quality of the vinegar, and they’ll dress up any simple dish with an exotic flair. I like this one with roast fowl or sautéed pork chops, or even alongside a simple, homey dish, such as cheese on toast. I’ll wager guests at your table will ask for the recipe. Keep a few extra jars on hand, so you can send those guests off with not only a recipe, but a beribboned jar of your very own for inspiration."