Cheese nuggets with grape chutney and pecan salad
These mouthfuls of melted cheese are naughty but nice, and work so well with the tart chutney.
For the chutney
- 100g/3½oz light muscovado sugar
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 100g/3½oz sultanas
- 150ml/5¼fl oz sherry vinegar
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 300g/10½oz red seedless grapes, halved
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the house dressing
- 1 free-range egg yolk
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 2 tsp runny honey
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 150ml/5¼fl oz vegetable oil
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pecan salad
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 100g/3½oz pecan nut halves
- 2 heads Little Gem lettuce, washed, leaves separated
- vegetable oil, for deep frying
For the cheese nuggets
For the chutney, heat the muscovado sugar in a large frying pan over a low to medium heat, without stirring, until it melts and forms a golden-brown caramel ,swirl the pan to move the sugar instead of stirring it (CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully. Use a deep pan to avoid bubbling over.).
Add the onion and sultanas to the caramel, then pour in the sherry vinegar and stir with a wooden spoon.
Add the tomatoes and grapes and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the grapes are tender and the mixture has thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer the chutney to a sterilised, airtight jar and set aside. (The longer you leave the chutney, the more the flavours will develop.)
Meanwhile, for the house dressing, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard, honey and cider vinegar in a bowl until well combined. Gradually add the vegetable oil in a thin stream, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens to a creamy mayonnaise.
Stir in the shallot, garlic and herbs, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
For the pecan salad, line a plate with greaseproof paper.
Pour 100ml/3½fl oz of water into a saucepan and add the sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the temperature until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened to a syrup. (Caution: Hot syrup can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
Add the pecans to the syrup and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, then spoon the pecans and syrup onto the lined plate and set aside to cool and harden.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180C. Alternatively, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a high heat until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into it. (Caution: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
Carefully lower the sugared pecans into the hot oil, in batches, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain and cool on kitchen paper.
When the pecan nuts have cooled, place the lettuce leaves into a large bowl, drizzle over two tablespoons of the house dressing, then sprinkle over the pecans. Toss the leaves to coat them in the dressing. Set aside.
For the cheese nuggets, sprinkle the flour on a plate and the breadcrumbs on another plate. Dust each piece of cheese first in the flour, then dip it into the beaten egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs until completely coated.
Using the same oil as before, carefully lower the coated cheese pieces into the hot oil in batches. Fry for 30–60 seconds, or until the breadcrumbs are golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Remove each batch from the hot oil using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm while you cook the remaining batches.
To serve, place the cheese nuggets onto a large serving plate with a bowl of the chutney alongside. Serve with the salad.
This recipe makes more house dressing than you will need for the salad. The remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight jar or container in the fridge for up to four days and used on other salads.