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Author Notes: I initially thought this was going to be a mostarda, but the fragrance of the bay leaves, which compliment so perfectly the sweet-tart flavors of the dried cherries and Zante raisins (sold in the U.S. as “currants”) firmly dictated that this be left alone. Thus, this very simple but, I daresay, rather elegant cranberry compote was born. When I made this the first time, I let it sit for 5 days while I was traveling out of town. (Elizabeth David let her agrodolci sit out for a week undisturbed, so I figured that refrigerated, this would be just fine. I was right.) I’ve confirmed since then that 2 nights of macerating and infusing suffice. Just make sure to use high quality bay leaves, as their flavor takes center stage here. I like the bay leaves offered by Oaktown Spice Shop; before they opened, I used Penzeys, which seem fairly comparable. This compote takes so little active time to make. I easily made both batches in stages on weekday evenings. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
- 12 ounces organic cranberries, picked over and rinsed
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed (or more to taste)
- 3 nice quality, fragrant bay leaves
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ¼ cup Zante raisins (sold as currants” in the U.S.)
- Lightly pulse the cranberries five or six times in a food processor, or coarsely chop with a knife. Don’t worry about cutting all of the berries, or whether they’re uniformly chopped. You just want to release some of the juice at this point.
- Put the cranberries in a glass container that has a tight lid. If you don’t have one, a glass bowl will work, as long as you can cover it tightly with foil. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the cranberries and stir well.
- Put the dried fruit and bay leaves in a small, heavy, non-reactive saucepan with 1 ½ cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it sit for another 10 minutes.
- Pour the contents of the saucepan over the cranberries and stir well. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least several hours, or until you go to bed, if sooner. Stir the contents well to incorporate any sugar on the bottom of the container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, stir the contents of the container well and return it to the fridge for at least another 24 hours, or up to five days.
- When ready to finish, remove from the fridge and put into a small, heavy, non-reactive saucepan. Bring the heat up to a boil, then reduce immediately and simmer ever so gently for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Turn the heat off, cover, and let sit for a couple of hours or overnight. (It’s fine to let it sit out.) Taste it. If it seems just too tart for you, add a bit more brown sugar, bring it back up to a simmer, and let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; then let cool.
- Store in a tightly lidded container. It will taste even better the next day.
- Remove the bay leaves just before serving.
- Enjoy! ;o)