Avocado & Smoked Salmon Pizza

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

In Canada, July 1st marks the day for Canadians to show pride in their nations history, culture and achievements. From coast to coast the country’s birthday is marked with various events.

On July 1st, from coast to coast, the country’s birthday is highlighted with colorful parades, concerts, carnivals, festivals and firework displays.

Food and drink are almost as synonymous with Canada Day as the colors of red and white. More importantly this date celebrates the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867.

Pizza is one of those foods that works for just about everyone. From meat eaters to vegetarians, kids, adults and everyone in between. Year-round, it’s the perfect entree for family or party events.

Although avocado on pizza may sound weird, to me it’s glorious. When you think about it, tomato or tomato sauce is a big part of pizza most of the time. Often guacamole is made with tomato, so that avocado flavor compliments pizza well.

Pizza is one of the easiest meals you can make at home. I most always prefer to make my own crust but nothing wrong with a purchased one or some naan or focaccia bread for the crust. Once that crust part has been taken care of, it’s really just a matter of topping the pie with all your favorite ingredients and waiting for it to come out of the oven.

It’s always interesting to me what develops when you ‘step out of the box’ so today our Canada Day meal is a smoked salmon & avocado pizza.

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Avocado & Smoked Salmon Pizza
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NAAN PIZZAS
Ingredients
Pizza Spread
Caramelized Red Onions
Pizza
Servings
NAAN PIZZAS
Ingredients
Pizza Spread
Caramelized Red Onions
Pizza
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Instructions
Pizza Spread
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese with the dill & minced garlic. Mix well.
Caramelized Onion
  1. Heat oil in a skillet until hot. Add sliced onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with cider vinegar & brown sugar. Cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Toppings
  1. Grate cheese. Flake smoked salmon. Peel avocado & remove pit. Slice in 1/8-inch slices.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Drizzle garlic olive oil onto the Naan breads & spread with cream cheese mixture. Divide onion evenly between the 6 Naan breads. Top with 1/2 of the grated cheese. Evenly distribute the smoked salmon then top with remaining cheese.
  3. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until hot & bubbly.
  4. Remove from oven & divide avocado slices between the pizzas. Garnish with chopped sprigs of fresh dill & sprinkle with lemon pepper if you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • Alternately, you can omit the garlic olive oil & the cream cheese mixture & use bottled tartar sauce for the base of the pizzas. Brion & I really enjoyed this alternative.

Chicken Breast w/ Rhubarb Chutney

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!

It seems as we get older, reminiscing becomes part of our lives. It is that important psychological process called ‘life cycle review’. Both of our father’s were men who always had great, real-life stories to tell. If only those stories had been recorded or written down so we could enjoy them once again. There is never a week goes by that Brion & I don’t reminisce about something we remember about one or the other.

For this blog post, I’m preparing a chicken meal I think they both would have enjoyed.

Seasonal tastes are the wonder of the food universe. Because you can’t have them every day, they are precious. Rhubarb, with its gorgeous pink and green stalks, is a prize of spring and summer produce. It’s delicious in savory applications, like the complex sauce for tonight’s chicken.

Over the years, I think I’ve used rhubarb in every way possible but then I see another idea and …. On the savory side, it seems it can be paired with any meat or fish.

The mild flavor of chicken takes to the spicy/tart flavor of rhubarb and perfumes your kitchen with delicious aromas as it cooks. A side of roasted potatoes and French green beans rounds out this gourmet seasonal meal.

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Chicken Breast w/ Rhubarb Chutney
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Instructions
Rhubarb Chutney
  1. Heat 2 t oil in saucepan over medium heat and cook onion about 3 minutes.
  2. Add rhubarb, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, and 1/8 t pepper; bring to a boil over medium-high heat (stir occasionally) until rhubarb gets soft and is breaking down, then 5 - 10 additional minutes. Remove and cover.
Chicken Breast
  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and 1/8 t pepper and brown 2 - 3 minutes each side in 1 T canola oil on medium high heat.
  2. Serve the chicken breasts topped with the rhubarb chutney & sides of roasted potatoes & green beans.

Flammekueche – Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon

Nestled on the border of France and Germany is a little area known as the Alsatian (All-Say-Shun) region. There, cultures have collided, blended, and meshed to create some of the most unique culinary experiences. One such specialty is the Flammekueche, also known as the Alsatian Pizza, or Tarte Flambée. A combination of baked flat dough topped with fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, bacon, and onions. All of this is baked to a crisp perfection.

The most underrated and underused topping in every pizzeria is the onion. The flavor potential of this glorious root can be either bold or a sublime succulent whisper, but it is usually taken for granted.

Known as flammekueche in Alsatian and flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée is pure and uncomplicated. Typically made on a piece of thin, rolled-out bread dough, it has only three or four other main ingredients: the sour cream, cheese, onion and the bacon.

But don’t let the few ingredients fool you because they’re wonderfully paired. The creamy, slightly sharp sour cream is tamed by the sweet onions and salty bacon.

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Flammekueche - Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon
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Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Bacon / Cheese
  1. In skillet, sauté bacon until it is halfway to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces. Grate cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into 4 ovals. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  3. Add minced garlic to sour cream & spread over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over sour cream. Top all with grated cheese & a sprinkling of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.

Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Here on the Canadian prairies we have a native berry called a ‘Saskatoon’. These berries are very special …. the kind of special that only comes once a year.

Saskatoon berries look much like blueberries, but in fact are part of the rose family which includes apples, cherries, plums and of course roses. Saskatoons ripen in late June or early July. They grow in many conditions from sea level to mountain peaks and are less picky about soil conditions than blueberries. Trying to explain their flavor to anyone who has never tasted them is difficult and elusive. They’re sweet, dense, rich, seedy, slightly blueberryish, more almondish, a bit apple-y, dusky and deep. Like I said …. difficult to explain!

Throughout North America, saskatoon berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, service berry, shadbush or juneberry.

Saskatoon berries work equally good in sweet treats as well as savory recipes. This pork tenderloin entrée is a good example of the latter.

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Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
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Instructions
Tenderloin/Stuffing
  1. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, oregano, garlic & pepper.
  2. Remove silverskin from tenderloin & 'butterfly'. Place meat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound, making it all the same thickness. Spread mustard evenly on flattened cut side & top with 'stuffing'.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Starting with the long side, carefully roll the tenderloin as opposed to just folding it over.
  4. Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay a piece of foil on top creating sides for it. Lightly oil center of foil; place tenderloin on it & brush with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette or just use olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes until just a hint of pink remains.
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, add 1 tsp oil & sauté green onions & ginger for a couple of minutes. Add honey, water, cider vinegar, cornstarch & salt; mix well. Add saskatoons; bring to a simmer & cook until chutney thickens slightly.
  2. Slice roast tenderloin into medallions about 1-inch thickness. Pour some chutney onto serving platter; place sliced tenderloin medallions on top & drizzle with remaining chutney.

Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney

Chicken Katsu is simply a Japanese version of chicken cutlets. While it is great to enjoy a good dish, its worth knowing where the idea originated.

Katsu was first created in the late 1800’s by a restaurant in Tokyo that wanted to offer a European style meat cutlet. Now, katsu can be found everywhere from convenience store takeaway bento boxes to Western style Japanese food restaurants. The name ‘katsu’ comes from the English word ‘cutlet’. It is typically made from either chicken breasts or thighs coated in panko breadcrumbs.

Frying or baking chicken cutlets is simple, but its like cooking pasta, when you get it right, it changes everything. Breading helps to seal in moisture during the cooking time. Its a basic process that’s used for making everything from chicken to onion rings. Japanese panko crumbs are lighter and crispier, the secret to ultra-crunchiness which yields to the kind of crust that you can actually hear when you bite into it.

Since its ‘Saskatoon Berry‘ time here on the prairies, I wanted to make some saskatoon chutney to have with these crispy cutlets.

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Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney
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Instructions
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. Combine all chutney ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, cook until mixture is the consistency of runny jam, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat & cool completely.
Chicken Cutlets
  1. Place chicken breasts between plastic wrap & carefully pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt & pepper. Coat with flour then dip in beaten eggs & lastly coat with Panko crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 15 minutes to chill before cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter & add oil. Place cutlets in a single layer in skillet & fry on both sides. When no longer pink inside & golden on the outside remove from skillet & blot on paper towel.
  3. Serve immediately with Saskatoon Chutney.
Recipe Notes
  • The standard breading technique includes three steps: dredging in flour, moistening in egg wash, then coating in crispy panko crumbs. The flour helps the egg wash adhere & the egg helps the breadcrumbs adhere. 
  • Once you have all the food coated, you will want to place it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will ensure the breading actually sticks to the food instead of falling off in the hot oil.
  • If baking, put breaded food on a rack set over a baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil & place in the oven. Bake until golden brown & cooked through.

German Lasagna

Classic German staples come together in this lasagna to make a very unique version of the classic dish.

There are six main ingredients in this recipe. The first is spaetzle, the German equivalent of pasta. The second is onion. By caramelizing the diced pieces you turn it into little velvety pieces of heaven that add incredible depth and sweetness to the dish. Third is Bratwurst, a fresh link sausage characterized by its many different spices and seasonings. Fourth is sauerkraut, bratwurst’s classic sidekick. Fifth is bacon and the crowning touch and grand finale is the Emmentaler cheese.

I would like to talk a bit more about spaetzle which, in my opinion, elevates this lasagna to a whole new level. Compared to traditional pasta dough, spaetzle is softer and quite moist.

Native to Germany, ‘spaetzle’ is made all over the world now, having a different name in each country. The lines have become blurred between what is a spaetzle and what is something else.

The dough is quite basic, made from flour, eggs, water and salt. Although these little ‘dumplings’ can be eaten with almost anything, I thought they added something real special to this German lasagna.

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German Lasagna
Votes: 5
Rating: 4
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
Votes: 5
Rating: 4
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Instructions
Spaetzle
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with salt & make a well in the center. Add eggs to the well & whisk the flour into the eggs. Gradually whisk in the water until a very thick batter forms. Cover with a damp cloth & allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place spaetzle dough maker above the pot with the water. Load with dough & slide back & forth or press to squeeze the dough through & form the spaetzle noodles.
  3. Once the spaetzle begins to float to the surface, scoop with a large slotted spoon & transfer to a colander placed inside a bowl for the drained water to collect. Continue process until all of the dough is used.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in saucepan, add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Set aside.
Sauce
  1. In the saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, bouillon, garlic powder & salt until smooth. Gradually stir in milk & broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat to a bowl & set aside.
  2. In the saucepan, cook bacon (not too crisp); remove to a cutting board to coarsely chop. Add bratwurst sausage meat (which has been removed from casings) to saucepan & scramble fry until cooked. Drain on paper towel. Add chopped bacon, bratwurst & caramelized onions to your prepared sauce.
Cottage Cheese / Other Ingredients
  1. In a small bowl, beat eggs; add cottage cheese & pepper. Set aside. Drain sauerkraut & rinse. Squeeze dry. Grate cheese
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Spread 1 cup sauce mixture over bottom of pan. Layer with 1/3 of the spaetzle noodles, a 1/3 of sauce mixture, 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 of the sauerkraut & 3/4 cup grated cheese. Repeat layers ( spaetzle, sauce, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, spaetzle, sauce). Save grated cheese for last 5 minutes of baking.
  3. Cover & bake for 50-60 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining GRATED CHEESE; bake 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Recipe Notes
  • If you do not have a spaetzle dough maker, just drop spoonfuls of dough into the boiling water to form spaetzle noodles. Dip your spoon into water to prevent it sticking on the spoon.

German Potato & Cauliflower Salad

When I think back to my childhood days, I have a very fond memory of my mother’s potato salad. This is probably the case with many people, but one has to be careful. Trying to create the taste of childhood is a slippery slope filled with our adult expectations. Time and distance change many things such as memory, experiences and knowledge.

Potato salad is widely believed to have originated in Germany and was brought to America by German immigrants. The thing I remember most about my mother’s potato salad was that it consisted of only a small ingredient list and had a nice slightly sweet but tart dressing. If I’m not wrong, I believe she used a bit of juice from her bread & butter pickles in the dressing. The other magic ingredient was some of her new potatoes from the garden. As the saying goes, it was ‘to die for’.

I’m not sure how popular potato salad is anymore but since its the season, I wanted to share a couple of salad recipes.

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German Potato & Cauliflower Salads
Instructions
Potato Salad
  1. In a large pot, cook potatoes in salted boiling water. Cool, peel & cube. Boil eggs & coarsely chop. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan & blot on paper towel reserving bacon drippings for dressing. Crumble bacon. Slice green onion & radishes. Place everything EXCEPT the radishes in a large bowl.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together reserved bacon drippings, light salad dressing, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery seed & dill weed. Blend well. Pour over potato mixture & carefully combine well. Cover & refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Just prior to serving, add radishes & add more salt if necessary. Carefully combine & serve.
Cauliflower Salad
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp, Remove from pan, reserving bacon drippings.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & coat with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower florets on foil; sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown slightly. Remove from oven & cool slightly.
  3. While the cauliflower bakes, saute the onion in bacon drippings until tender. Set aside. Cook, peel & cube potatoes.
  4. In a small dish, combine salad dressing, cider vinegar, sugar, mustard & garlic salt. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cauliflower, sauteed onion & dressing. Fold together & taste to see if more salt is needed. Serve as is or chilled.
Recipe Notes
  • I found, if you add the radishes just before serving keeps them crisp & prevents them from 'bleeding' their color into the salad.
  • In regards to the cauliflower salad, I have also made it leaving the cauliflower RAW & substituting the white onion for green. I liked that added bit of 'crunch'.

Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

In Canada, July 1st marks the day for Canadians to show pride in their nations history, culture and achievements. From coast to coast the country’s birthday is marked with various events.

This is the date of the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867.

Barbecues are definitely the preferred choice of food event for the day. Although we are experiencing some rainy conditions this Canada Day, nothing says you can’t modify the traditional barbecue with cooking indoors. For something different, I decided to try making some portobello ‘fries’ to accompany our chicken cheese burgers. Technically, they are not really fries at all, but they’re crispy and dip able and that is all anyone expects from a fry.. right? Sliced and breaded with crumbs and cheese then baked makes these portobello fries super tasty.

Of course, the staple at most barbecues, tailgates and picnics is the classic burger. But a burger doesn’t have to be just a burger and cheese isn’t just cheese. For ours, I’m making chicken burgers ‘infused’ with shredded Gruyere cheese. Then taking it to the next level and adding caramelized onions and guacamole.

What a nice ‘Canada Day’ meal it makes!

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Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Chicken Cheese Burgers
  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 4 patties & place in refrigerator until ready to grill.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Place in a dish; set aside.
Guacamole
  1. In a bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge until needed.
Portobello Fries
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet lined with foil.
  2. In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, spices, salt & pepper. In another shallow dish, lightly beat eggs with 1 Tbsp water. In the third shallow dish, combine panko/butter mixture with the Parmesan cheese.
  3. Gently toss mushroom slices in the flour mixture. Coat evenly & shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the floured fries into the eggs, drip off any excess eggs & then place them into the panko mixture. Gently press the panko mixture onto the mushrooms.
  4. Place the fries onto the wire rack, leaving an 1/8-inch space between each. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy. If you wish, you could serve fries with marinara sauce, ketchup or a roasted garlic mayo.
Assembly
  1. Once you have all the various components to this meal this far all that is left is to barbecue the chicken burgers over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked thru. Instead of baking the mushroom fries you can alternately grill them on the BBQ as well.
  2. Slice & lightly grill Ciabatta buns. Top each bottom half with a chicken burger, a slice of cheese, some guacamole, caramelized onions & a tomato slice, ending with the other half of the bun. The big question is, how to get your mouth around it!
Recipe Notes
  • Whether you bake or grill, either way its all good!

Herb Roasted Game Hens with Rhubarb-Date Chutney

According to legend, the Cornish game hen was actually ‘invented’. The original breeder was a woman by the name of  ‘Tea’ Makowsky.  At the age of 15, she moved to Paris, France finding work at both a milliner’s shop and a cheese shop. It was here she met her husband and they married in 1933. Fleeing from the Nazis, they settled in the USA. After fire destroyed their farm in 1949. the Makowskis, began experimenting and came up with a cross breed of Cornish game cocks and Plymouth Rock hens. The result was a plump little bird that matured quickly with all-white meat. In less than 5 weeks, the chicken was ready to be sold.

By the 1950’s, the Cornish Game Hen was fabulously popular. The usual weight is about 500-700 grams, which makes it ample for an individual serving. I remember in the 1970’s, Cornish game hens were considered to be a very upscale or exotic dinner and quite expensive.

I haven’t made any of these little ‘birds’ for a long time. Since its that time of year for that wonderful rhubarb, I’m pairing some Cornish hens with a rhubarb chutney. Yum!


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Herb Roasted Game Hens with Rhubarb-Date Chutney

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Ingredients

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Instructions
Cornish Hens
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash & dry hens thoroughly, Divide herb pkg between hens & place inside. Rub each hen with butter or mayo. Place breast side up in a roasting pan. Roast until juices run clear & meat thermometer reads 165 F. when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken, about an hour. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Fruit Chutney
  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick but still has a small amount of liquid. Serve warm or cold with Cornish game hens.

Mango Chutney Country Style Ribs

If you are not accustomed to using chutneys it is well worth revisiting the idea. Chutney is similar to salsa or a sweet ‘relish’. The perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy are critical elements for most chutneys. The sweetness coming from fresh or dried fruits, the sour element from vinegar, lemon or lime and the spiciness from a variety of whole spices. 

There is no right or wrong recipe, just a preferred flavor or two. They can be cooked or fresh and are made from a wide variety of ingredient combinations of fruits and/ or vegetables and spices. Ground spices tend to make chutney cloudy so it is best to use whole ones.

In the majority of chutney recipes one ingredient tends to dominate the flavor. The sweet and sour ones work well with beef, pork and chicken, whereas sweeter versions are great on cheese and crackers, bagels and toast.

I have made numerous chutneys over the years. Some were served with warm Brie cheese but very often I’ve used mango chutney when cooking pork. This particular recipe can be made with either purchased chutney or just make a recipe of your own. It creates a unique flavor along with nice tender ribs.

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Mango Chutney Country Style Ribs
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Instructions
Mango Chutney
  1. In a saucepan, combine honey & vinegar, Bring to a boil & simmer until honey dissolves. Add remaining ingredients & simmer, uncovered until mixture becomes slightly thickened. Pour into a glass dish & set aside until needed. Refrigerate any remaining chutney that you don't use in making ribs.
Ribs / Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, Brown ribs & set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add all 'sauce' ingredients to saucepan except for the 1 fresh mango. Bring to a boil, cooking for about 15 minutes, gently mashing tomatoes with a fork, until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 F. Place ribs in a baking dish; pour sauce over ribs, cover & bake for about 1-1 1/2 hours until ribs are very tender. Serve with sauce & top with remaining diced fresh mango.