recipe revisited: cranberry sauce

There are certain foods you grow up with that will forever evoke nostalgia and comfort.  And while we’ve all got our favorite from-scratch food memories, there’s usually a few boxed, canned or processed guilty pleasures that delight us, despite our now “knowing better”.

For many Americans – my mother included – this includes jellied cranberry sauce.  Straight from the can, with the ridges of course, and perhaps best enjoyed smashed into a leftover-turkey sandwich.  Needless to say, it took some fighting on my part to impose the glory that is homemade cranberry sauce on our family Thanksgiving feast.

Last year’s batch was a resounding success (I really do not like super-sweet anything, so I used about 1/3 the sugar suggested in the recipe I found, and just upped the OJ quotient).  However, being the ever-curious and instinctual cook that I am, I didn’t write down the recipe.  So much the better! – because that means more experimenting this year.

Note : I don’t usually measure when I cook – so I provide estimated measurements, which you should play around with!

Homemade Tart & Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:
1 bag of cranberries, maple syrup, OJ, 1 pomegranate, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp  allspice
(optional : turmeric, orange zest, lemon juice)

1. Put a centimeter of water in the bottle of a medium-sized pot.  Start to heat the water, and add your bag of cranberries.
2. Add your OJ (about a cup) – almost enough to cover the cranberries, but not quite.
3. Swirl in some maple syrup (I used about 1/4-1/3 cup, but you can add more if you like it sweeter).
4. Stir the mixture and let it come to a simmer.
5. Meanwhile, wash your pomegranate and slice it in half.  Grab a large bowl and hold the cut pomegranate, seed-side-down, in your non-dominant hand (fingers spread, but gripping the pomegranate).  Use a large spoon to whack the seeds out of the pomegranate into the bowl.  Hint : Don’t wear white.

6. Add your pomegranate seeds, cinnamon stick and allspice to the pot.
7. Once a good number of the berries have popped, taste the sauce.  Add fresh lemon juice for acidity, orange zest for savory “zing”, and turmeric for a more robust spice palate (turmeric is strong, so start with a 1/4 tsp and taste before adding more) .
8. Let your sauce boil down a bit (the whole process should take no more than 20-30 minutes) to thicken.
9. Fish out and throw away the cinnamon stick.  Pour the sauce into mason jars or serving bowls to cool (it will thicken as it cools)
10. Impress your family and friends at holiday gatherings!

A second opinion:
– Like your flavors more traditional?  Here’s a great step-by-step cranberry sauce recipe by The Pioneer Woman.

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