I don't know if it's a Midwestern thing or just my family, but we have always been enthusiastic canners. I remember the wonderful plum jam my mother used to make from the trees in our back yard. My brother and cousins keep me well stocked in home made jam to this day. And my grandmother, I remember, went through an exotic period dotted with hot pepper or onion jelly, apricot chutney, chili sauce. So thanks to her, when I think of making a chutney I generally dismiss the idea because I don't have time for steaming jars.
This is very stupid, I admit. And I proved it last week when I looked at the wonderful almost-too-ripe plums sitting in my fruit bowl and thought to combine them with the ginger left over from my ginger ale experiment. Rich and fruity, with just a hint of a bite. Why don't I think of combining fruit and meat more often? Why am I so stupid? Well, rather than launch into a long and involved discussion of nature and nurture let's just move on...
Although this recipe is (very) vaguely Chinese, I don't claim any authenticity for it. It is very tasty, though, and would be fantastic with a slice of duck or a lean pork chop. I served it with a chicken breast, marinated in soy sauce, pepper oil and lemon juice and it was delicious. But I think it would be even better with duck.
Plum Chutney (not to preserve but to serve immediately on two servings of meat of your choice, but I recommend duck)
10-12 small Italian prune plums, preferably juicy and ripe
10 grams (a knob about the size of a smallish thumb) ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 large shallot, sliced in thin strips
1/4 cup port or other sweet wine
2 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 star anise
1 tsp sesame seeds
Toss all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until it gets glossy and thick and smells wonderful. Be sure to cool the spoon thoroughly before tasting as thick hot sauces tend to retain heat extremely well.