Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Billy’s parents live in Northwest Montana and we just love visiting them in the summer.  The Northwest of Montana is mountainous with lots of lakes and rivers for playing, as well as plenty of agriculture in the valleys.  It’s a land where the cowboys, farmers and those of us there for recreation dwell in harmony.

This is how we are greeted by Swan River in the early morning.

The Flathead Lake is the largest lake west of the Mississpi River.  This is the view from Somers, which is on the northwest end of the lake.

And in Somers is Somers Bay Cafe one of our favorite places to go for breakfast after church.  Somers Bay Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, year round.
A couple of our other favorite restaurants are; The Echo Lake Cafe for breakfast or lunch, and When in Rome for dinner (don't be scared that it's in a strip mall, the interior of the restaurant is sophisticated and the food is just darned good!)

This is how the Swan River says good night!
The Flathead Valley is known for producing juicy cherries and sweet huckleberries (a wild berry, similar to blueberries), while we were too early for hucks (they should be in season now), we got there just in time for the beginning of cherry season.  We just go gaga for the cherries. In the evening we stick a big ol’ bowl of cherries in the middle of the table to nibble while we play cards…the danger of that is that we lose track of how many cherries we’ve eaten; anyone who’s done the same thing knows what I’m sayin’.

With all the lovely, juicy, red, cherries around I just had to make something with them, so I decided to go savory with them and make a Fresh Cherry Chutney.  I sat out on the porch one afternoon with apron donned, a bowl of cherries and a paring knife.  Now if you have a cherry pitter, I would recommend using it, I thought my hands would be cherry stained for a week, but the reddish purple color washed off with little scrubbing.

Since I was going to the trouble of pitting fresh cherries, I made a big batch of the chutney.  The chutney goes great with Citrus Marinated Chicken or pork.  Add just a little balsamic vinegar to it to make a marinade for steak, and add just a little bottle barbecue sauce to it for cherry barbecue sauce.  It is also yummy to serve with cheese and crackers!

Here’s what you do.

Start with the aromatics; diced onions, sliced lemons and limes as well as chopped garlic.

I used bone in spit chicken breasts so I had to put two pieces of chicken into two bags and then added half of  the aromatics to each bag.  You may use boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs if you prefer. 

In a small bowl combine seasoned rice vinegar, canola oil, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, thyme, celery seed, seasoning salt, and pepper.

Add half of the marinade to each bag, squeeze the air out of the bags and seal them up.
I like to smush everything around to make sure the chicken is completely covered in marinade.
I also like to press on the citrus with my fingers to break up the little juice pods.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours, turning the bags half way through.

Pitted and chopped cherries, jalapenos, shallot, garlic and lime are the base of the sauce.
I made a double batch of this yummy chutney.

Add the ingredients to a medium sauce pan, but only add half of the dice jalapenos at this time.

Also add 1/4 cup of water, some honey, red wine vinegar, a bay leaf, a pinch each of cinnamon, allspice and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat...

...Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook at a low boil for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chutney has a jam like consistency.

Remove the cooked sauce from the heat and add the remaining diced jalapenos.

Serve the Fresh Cherry Chutney on the side; warm or room temperature

I had my grill to high, so the skin got a little (a lot) charred, but it was still gosh darned juicy and tasty.

Go ahead and make a double batch of Fresh Cherry Chutney, because you're so gonna wanna make these Cherry Marinated Steaks with Cherry BBQ Sauce.

Serves 6


½          cup        Seasoned rice vinegar
2            Tbsp.      Honey
2            Tbsp.      Canola oil
2            Tbsp.      Olive oil
1 ½         Tbsp.      Dijon mustard
1 ½         tsp.        Italian seasoning
1             tsp.        Seasoning salt
½           tsp.        Pepper
½           tsp.        Dried thyme
¼           tsp.        Celery seed
4 ½         lbs.        Split chicken breasts (you may also use 3 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts, or 3 ½ lbs. of chicken thighs)
2                          Lemons, thinly sliced
1                          Lime, thinly sliced
1                          Large onion, diced
2              cloves   Garlic, chopped

   1.        In a small bowl combine the seasoned rice vinegar, honey, canola and olive oils, Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, seasoning salt, pepper, thyme, and celery seed.
   2.       Divide the chicken between two zip top bags.  Add half of the sliced lemon, lime, onions and garlic to each bag.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag.  Remove any excess air from the bag and seal it.  Gently press on the citrus to break up the juice pods.  Move the bag around to cover all of the chicken evenly with marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours; turning the bag over after one hour.
   3.       Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before cooking.  If grilling split breasts, heat the grill and place the chicken skin side down, cook for about 10 minutes and then turn the chicken to finish cooking for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  To roast, cook the chicken, skin side up in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Citrus Chicken tastes yummy just as it is, but you may wish to kick it up by topping it with Fresh Cherry Chutney.


1              cup         Fresh cherries that have been pitted and roughly chopped
1                            Small shallot, minced
1                            Jalapeno, minced; divided use
1              clove      Garlic, minced (small clove)
1                            Lime, juice of
¼            cup         Water
2              Tbsp.       Honey
½             Tbsp.      Red wine vinegar
1                            Bay leaf
1/8            tsp.       Salt
2               pinches  Cinnamon
1               pinch      Allspice

   1.       Combine all of the ingredients except half of the jalapeno in a medium sauce pan. 
   2.       Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then turn the heat to medium-low heat.  Cook at a low boil for 30 to 40 minutes until the sauce has a jam like consistency.
   3.       Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining minced jalapeno.

Serve the sauce warm, room temperature or cold with chicken, pork or beef.  Fresh Cherry Chutney also makes a great accompaniment to cheese and crackers.


Serves 4

2/3        cup       Cherry Chutney
1           Tbsp.    Balsamic vinegar
2           Tbsp.    Canola oil
1/2         tsp.       Salt
1/4         tsp.       Pepper
2            lbs.        Steak

1.  In a small bowl mix together all of the ingredients except for the steak.
2.  Add the steak to a zip top bag with the marinade.  Remove any excess air from the bag and seal it.  Move the marinade around so that the steak is completely covered.  Marinade in the refrigerator for about 4 hours to overnight, turning the bag over a few times.
3.  Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade.  
4.  Grill the steak over medium-high heat to your desired temperature.

*Mix the remaining chutney with a little bottled barbecue sauce; mix 1 tbsp. of barbecue sauce to the chutney at a time until it tastes the way you like it, serve it with steak, pork of chicken.


  1. This is beautiful...Montana, chutney and cherries. Love it.


  2. Looks like a wonderful recipe Kari.
    Love the lemon flavors for the chicken, it combines perfectly with the cherry chutney!
    Your vacation pictures are lovely.

  3. all cherry in this wonderful dish will certainly cheer us up, citrus marinated chicken with its fresh burst of flavor will pair with cherry chutney really well, thanks for sharing :-)

  4. I love cherry-based sauces with meat and chicken. So good! Your recipe is very creative and I love the detailed photos of how to marinate the chicken and make the sauce.