Excuse my language (as in the title) but I couldn’t come up with a better name for this week’s food experiment. I’ve been up to my neck in cranberries and made four (FOUR!) sauces just so I could report back to you in time for Thanksgiving, in case you’re still looking for a good cranberry sauce recipe.
If you’re like me, you came to cranberry sauce late. It was always that jelly thing in the corner that I would skip in favor of the mashed potatoes, turkey drumstick, and most importantly, the gravy! However, I eventually realized how the tart of cranberry brings out the flavor of roast turkey. More importantly, the sauciness of it can balance out the dryness of the meat. And who doesn’t like a dab of sauciness now and then?
I’ve never made cranberry sauce before and I decided that this year would be the year of cranberries. Two Thanksgiving potlucks (this past Sunday and this coming Thursday) provided just the right venue for me to make lots of varieties without getting stuck with 4 tubs of cranberry sauce. It wouldn’t be right for me to judge them, since I made two tonight and won’t have them with turkey until Thursday, so I’ll just list them here and describe their essence, and you can decide for yourself whether they’re worthy of your Thanksgiving feast.
Sauce #1: Traditional with orange zest
I got this one from smitten kitchen, a fantastic food blog with great recipes and awesome food porn. The original recipe can be found here, but here it is slightly modified by me:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
Several julienned strips of orange peel, or thick pieces of zest (~1/4 of an navel or blood orange)
A few squeezes of orange juice (from 1/2 orange)
Optional: Add a couple drops of vanilla extract and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries and zest, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few squeezes of fresh orange juice. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.
I really enjoyed this one, and I think it was a favorite amongst the guests at the pre-Thanksgiving potluck I went to yesterday. It’s tangy and citrus-y with just a hint of sweetness. Perfect with turkey.
1 15-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
1 15-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 bag frozen mixed berries, not defrosted
1 handful chopped walnuts
Break up the jellied cranberry sauce into chunks in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Frozen berries will melt as it sits.
This was really good but also incredibly sweet. It’s fine with turkey but also went well with apple crumble, and, I’d imagine, ice cream and yogurt.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup shallots, coarsely chopped
12-oz cranberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Heat oil in 3-quart heavy saucepan. Add shallots and cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until berries pop, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Can be refrigerated up to 1 week.
Again, I don’t have a fair comparison in the absence of turkey accompaniment, but this sauce is really complex and savory. There’s the ginger and the shallots, followed by the cranberry tart and finally the sugar. I’m looking forward to enjoying this one with the turkey on Thursday!
Sauce #4: Cranberry and Pickled Beet Relish
This one is also from the Gourmet Cookbook.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
1-16 oz jar sliced pickled beets, drained and quartered
Combine vinegar, water, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and simmer until berries pop (15 min). Stir in beets, remove from heat, and cool. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Keeps up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
This one is SOUR. My face kept puckering as I tasted it. In isolation, I’d say it’s my least favorite but it might be nice with turkey. The pickled beets really bring some interesting, earthy taste to it. We’ll have to see.
Before I finish this post, I wanted to encourage everyone to donate either canned goods, time, or cash money to your local food bank. Give thanks for all that you have by sharing just a tiny bit of your wealth with those in your community who are less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving!!! Gobble gobble!