Breakthrough Cranberry Sauce (Bay Leaves Optional but Recommended)

By • November 13, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I’ve been tinkering with cranberry-based condiments every November for as long as I’ve been married (which is to say, a very long time). About five years ago, when I made several versions and therefore had quite a bit more on hand than our small family could possibly eat, I learned that a cooked cranberry compote-style sauce not only lasts a good long while in the fridge, it also tastes much better after 4 or 5 days. Then I started playing with mostardas, adding dried and fresh fruits. I’ve posted here an article on that, as well as a recipe for a cranberry mostarda, if you’re at all interested. Last year my cranberry sauce reached an all-time high, when I applied a new, simple technique – one I’ve been using in recent years when making berry pies. After letting my cooked, chutney-style sauce sit in the fridge to develop flavor, I add coarsely chopped cranberries the night before. This gives the sauce a fresh bright taste and bit of crunch to its texture. I encourage you to try this method, either using this recipe or your own, and tell me what you think. I do hope you find this helpful. ;o)AntoniaJames

Serves 6

  • 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.)
  1. Remove from the bag and wash half of the cranberries. Leave the rest in the bag, unwashed, tightly closed, and refrigerate. Lightly pulse the other 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The night before you plan to serve this (or early that morning), remove the cranberry compote 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.
  7. Turn the heat off, cover, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and coarsely chop the reserved cranberries. Stir them into the compote. Store tightly covered in the fridge until 2-3 hours before serving. Bring it to room temperature, and then 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 a few minutes, stirring occasionally; then let cool. This can easily be done in the microwave.
  8. Remove the bay leaves just before serving. If there are any leftovers, store in a tightly lidded container. This will hold for another week or so in the fridge.
  9. I hope you enjoy this. ;o)
  10. This may seem like a fussy and involved cranberry sauce. It requires very little active time however. The extra steps, stolen from the classic Italian mostarda, seem well worth it. Once I can get fresh cranberries, I intend to test and add instructions for an alternate, simpler version of this. I'll put those in a note within this recipe. Cheers. ;o)

More Great Recipes: Fruit|Condiments|Side Dishes

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