Many moons ago, working for Chef Jean Michel Bergounoux, I was lucky to get a chance not only to learn his cooking methods as well as techniques. The experience was hands-on private cooking classes. By far he was my biggest influence and I think one of the best chefs in New York City. Strictly rooted in the French classics, he has years of experience in the most renowned kitchens both in France and throughout Europe. Beyond experience, he has an adventurous streak, a constant curiosity to try elements not in his usual repertoire, something that would seem out of terroir for many Frenchmen.
For instance, he'll create a chutney, more common in the pantries of English kitchens. When first meeting to discuss our opening menu for the restaurant we were launching, Jean Michel had us take notes for the various preparations. One recipe he pulled out was for rhubarb chutney. Jean Michel told us he had found it in some old American cook book. Since the name of the book escapes me, I credit it to my former boss and mentor. The flavor packed chutney accompanied a roasted duck breast. We often used it with seared foie gras for amuse bouche, or ate leftover in the copper pots by spoonfuls.
Recently I rustled up the recipe from my folder. Its food stained and yellowing pages had already been torn from the notebook years ago. I wanted to pass it on to a new friend, Sonia F. Bañuelos, who makes some fabulous chutneys herself on her site, Saffron Paisley. She mentioned her gardens rich bounty of California fruits, herbs and vegetables and how she is preparing all sorts of delicious sounding recipes for preserving from her home kitchen. I decided to send over this recipe so she could rate this old favorite of mine. The recipe is a deliciously spiced, unctuous jam, a perfect foil for foie gras or duck breast like we made with Jean Michel. It's a refreshing snack like the one pictured above, which I accompanied with a some rye hopped beer recently. I am sure Sonia will find a good dish to marry it with!
11/2 cups onions chopped
1/2 cup of raisins
11/3 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger grated (you can use dry, but I prefer fresh!)
1Tbsp. Sel rose or Salt peter (optional)
1Tbsp. Mustard seeds
1/2 Tsp.Coriander seeds
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
2 Cups Vinegar
1/2 cup of sugar
Cut rhubarb into dice, add the rest of the ingredients except the 1/2 cup of sugar, cook over low heat covered for about an hour, stirring every few minutes to avoid scorching. Add in the last 1/2 cup of sugar and cool. Can be eaten cold or heated according to what you serve it with.