057 – David Hopper, Chutney Ferret Industries
Chutney Work. How does a gentleman from Yorkshire who works in marketing for Dance Place in Washington, DC end up making and selling chutney? Like so many food journeys, this one is long and meandering but ultimately full of lessons, challenges, and great rewards. Meet David Hopper of Chutney Ferret Industries, my guest for Episode 57.
David grew up in Britain way before English cuisine was coming into its own. Lots of beef. Lots of bland. Lots of brown sauce. Thankfully his gran was a stellar cook, creating gorgeous legs of lamb and pork with crackling skin. A very good thing. Why aren’t there more butcher shops selling pork with the skin on here in America? I’m thinking that’s something that needs to be remedied! We need suet too. Because you can’t make good Christmas puddings without it!
Speaking of Christmas puddings, what exactly are they? Another quintessentially British item, a sweet concoction of fruits, nuts, flour, breadcrumbs, eggs, suet, beer, rum, brandy, and spices steamed together slowly for four hours. Don’t be alarmed! This stuff is good, a cross between a compote and a cake. David’s puddings receive raves, are completely delicious, and always sell out. I’ve got one sitting on my counter which I can’t wait to try in a few weeks. Great grilled up and served with a nice Wensleydale cheese, which is native to Yorkshire, or just served warm with brandy cream or ice cream.
David’s date and tomato ketchup is a riff on HP Sauce in Britain. Magnificent on a sausage sandwich! Ketchup is never just tomatoes but a way of preparing fruit so it becomes a condiment sauce, a major part of the whole spectrum that is Anglo-Indian cooking. Even the word “ketchup” or “catsup” has its origins in India. The Chutney Ferret version is a blend of fruits, tamarind, five different spices, and secret ingredients without any of the corn syrup, thickeners, or preservatives you find in commercial brands. Did you know Worcestershire sauce is actually catsup? David’s version is made from mushrooms, not anchovies, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and offers a huge umami flavor bomb to things like Bloody Mary’s and your favorite Asian dishes.
And of course there’s chutney, or “pickle” as it’s called in Britain. Gorgeous on sandwiches, terrific as a glaze on fish or meats, and a great flavoring agent for soups and stews. Just remember a little goes a long way. In Britain they use chutney for sandwiches on leftovers at Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of cranberry sauce. But it’s also lovely as a side with cold cuts and cheese and your favorite wine. David’s spiced plum chutney, arguably the most British kind, is made by blending together plums, apples, raisins, onions, two types of sugar and more than five types of spice. He actually forages all of the plums himself from wild plum trees! It’s stunning guys. Great with pimento cheese!
We talk at great length about the history of Anglo-Indian cooking, where they overlap, and how Indian flavors are blended deeply into notions of British cuisine to this day. How British cuisine has been at the forefront of nose to tail cooking, or using every single part of the animal to create delicious dishes. Meat as a flavoring agent instead of the centerpiece.
David also makes harissa paste using homegrown habaneros. It’s extraordinary! Our harissa talk launches a discussion on growing these capsaicin bombs. Why is drinking water the worst thing you can do while eating a habanero? And what is harissa paste? What do you use it for? How can you use his ketchups, catsups, and chutneys in cooking? We cover it all.
You can find all of the Chutney Ferret Industries products locally at The Spice Diva. I highly recommend them. They make great gifts but don’t delay in purchasing those Christmas puddings because they tend to sell out fast! David just started working at The Spice Diva part-time so stop in and say hello! If you have any questions about these strange, exotic condiments he’ll be glad to answer them. And offer up a taste. My favorite episodes are those where I leave knowing more than when I arrived. Sensing I may have just made a new friend. This was one of those times. David is lovely, his garden beautiful, and the chutneys? Amazing. Hope you enjoy this episode. Happy Holidays everyone!
SHOW NOTES – Links to resources talked about during the podcast:
- For Grace – a stunning true story about what it takes to overcome a tragic past then go on to open and run a successful high-end restaurant, in this case Curtis Duffy’s Grace in Chicago. Grab the tissues!
This episode is sponsored by MarieBette Café and Bakery.
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