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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Recipe: Italian Mostarda

A Perfect Accompaniment for Christmas Ham:
Italian Mostarda
by Victoria Challancin

The Holiday Dinner for friends was traditional:  baked ham, sweet potato biscuits, assorted Southern sides and casseroles.   Tradition is good.  It warms my heart during the holidays with loving memories that wash over me and anchor my wanderlust.  But I knew I needed to spice up my meal with something different, something vaguely exotic, something to keep me from getting bored as I traipsed through memory lane as I prepared the favorite dishes of my family.  Then I remembered a dish I had tried in Italy many years ago:  mostarda.  That lovely Italian riff on chutney: wine- and honey-steeped fruit cooked with mustard and spices.  Too busy to pour through my cookbooks, I Googled a recipe instead and then, with various ideas in mind, I started cooking.

First, I put equal parts of sugar (I had wanted to use honey, but didn't have quite enough) and red wine in a heavy pot.  I added maybe half a cup to 3/4 cup of prepared mustard (Dijon was what I had on hand), a couple of cinnamon sticks, 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds, and a teaspoon of black peppercorns.  I cut up and added to it about a kilo of quince, apple, and pear plus a sprinkling of raisins.  Add one orange cut into quarters, juiced.  I covered the pot and let this macerate overnight.  The following day I simmered the concoction until it resembled a rich, winey chutney, which also filled my house with glorious, if undefinable, aromas.  The result? Heavenly.  I suspect that honey would have added another flavor layer that the sugar couldn't provide, but other than that, the dish was perfect.

(Recipe by Victoria Challancin) 

For the marinade:

1 1/2 cups robust red wine
1 1/2 cups honey or sugar
3/4 cup prepared mustard (I used Dijon)
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 cinnamon sticks (I used Mexican)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the fruit:

2 large quinces, diced
2 Gala apples, diced
2 Anjou pears, diced
3/4 cup raisins
One orange, juiced and cut into quarters

Place the ingredients for the marinade in a heavy pot.  Heat until sugar or honey is dissolved, stirring constantly.  Once the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth, add the fruit, including the juice of the orange.  Cover the pot and leave in a cool place overnight.

The following day heat the mixture until it comes to a boil.  Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours, adding more red wine and honey or sugar in equal amounts if it gets too dry.  Stir often.  Serve with ham, poultry, or meat.

Notes:  You can preserve the mostarda in sterilized jarsSimply add a festive ribbon for an unusual hostess gift!

I have been enjoying the mostarda with prosciutto and pungent cheese on crackers and crostini.  I also suspect it would make nice addition to a winter vinaigrette if sharpened with some lemon juice and a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.

Buon Appetito! 

1 comment:

LOL elo boost said...
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