Cranberry Sauce

As a kid growing up, I thought all Cranberry Sauce came out of a can, placed on a pretty dish, and sliced along the can indentations. And that's exactly how it was for the first twenty years of my life. That can of Ocean Spray sitting in the fridge a week before Thanksgiving, chilling away and awaiting it's debut on the always overly-laden Thanksgiving table. Imagine my surprise when I found out that cranberries were actually a fruit one could buy at the store, and that cranberry sauce was so simple to make! I always thought that cranberries came from Massachusetts, but... it seems that Wisconsin actually produces over 50% of the country's cranberries, with Massachusetts a distant second with 30%. Ya learn something new every day.....

This Thanksgiving, along with a homemade cranberry sauce or two, I'll have one can of Jellied Cranberry Sauce, sliced along the ridges, in the same fancy cut-glass dish my mom used every year. Somehow it just seems like the right thing to do.

So on to making some cranberry sauce... The basic is merely 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and one 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries... Bring water and sugar to a boil, add crannerries, bring back to a boil, and simmer about 10 minutes. Basic. Easy.

But cranberries lend themselve to so many other flavors, (or, so many other flavors lend themselves to cranberries) that with just a tiny bit of imagination, you can make a cranberry sauce from just about anything!

A few years back, we decided to showcase homemade cranberry sauce at work, and I spent the day playing with cranberries and all sorts of other fun ingredients. Cooking is great fun when someone else is paying for the ingredients! Here's a few of the ones we came up with...

Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

• 12-ounce package cranberries
• 1 bag Frozen Raspberries, thawed
• 1 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup 100% Cranberry Juice
In a heavy saucepan combine the cranberries, raspberries, sugar, and the cranberry juice. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst and the sauce is thickened. Cool and refrigerate.

Triple Cranberry Sauce

• 1 cup 100% Cranberry Juice
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 12-ounce package cranberries
• 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
• 3 tablespoons Orange Marmalade
• 2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier
• 2 teaspoons minced orange peel
• 1/4 teaspoon Ground Allspice
Combine cranberry juice and sugar in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add fresh and dried cranberries and cook until dried berries begin to soften and fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange juice, orange peel and allspice. Chill.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

• 2 12-ounce packages fresh cranberries
• 1 1/2 cups Maple Syrup
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries pop, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Cool completely.

Apple Cranberry Sauce

• 1 12-ounce package cranberries
• 1 3/4 cups Fresh Apple Cider
• 3/4 cup Honey
• 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
• 1 cup Granny Smith Apple Rings, diced
• ¼ tsp Ground Cloves
• Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Simmer until berries burst and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate sauce until cold.

Cherry Cranberry Sauce

• 2 1/2 cups Cherry Cider
• 1 8-ounce package dried Montmorency Cherries
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 12-ounce package cranberries
• 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
Bring cider to simmer in large saucepan. Add cherries. Mix in sugar, then cranberries and cloves. Cook over medium-high heat until cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate until cold.

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Walnuts

• 12 oz cranberries
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup fresh orange juice
• 1 jar Mandarin Oranges, drained
• 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Combine first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook until cranberries are tender and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in orange pieces and walnuts. Transfer to bowl. Cover and chill.

And this doesn't even begin to touch on Cranberry Chutneys...

 

 


Fall

A blizzard of leaves drove through yesterday. With the howling winds came the inevitable drop in temperature. Cold weather always means soups, stews, and casseroles to me - and I was prepared!

I was at the Lancaster Farmer's Market in Strafford on Wednesday to order our 32+ pound Thanksgiving Turkey, and picked up a 6 pound stewing hen while I was there. It went into a big ol' pot yesterday, along with some wine, chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves, and simmered all day. (I didn't peel any of the vegetables, and used the onions, skin and all - onion skin adds flavor and helps make a nice, rich colored broth.)

The aroma wafting through the house was wonderful! It reminded me of childhood at my grandparent's house in Bakersfield, CA. My grandmother made the best Chicken and Rolled Dumplings! I wish I had her recipe (not that she ever followed one, but I'd love to know how she made those light and delicate dumplings!) Not feeling that adventurous, I took about a third of the broth and chicken and made a quick stew that I topped with a simple homemade bread dressing, and then baked off in the oven. It was yummy!

A simple unattended simmer on the stove has provided us with several meals. I now have about a gallon of rich broth in the fridge that will go into the freezer today. Some will be used at Thanksgiving for the gravy. And the chicken meat is sitting in a tupperware container - ready for whatever gastronomical delight we come up with! This is what "fast food" should be!

I love this time of year!

For those who may not know, here are a few chicken tidbits for ya...

A broiler/fryer can weigh up to 3 1/2 pounds, is usually around 2 1/2 months old and is best, as the name implies, when broiled or fried. The more flavorful roasters have more fat and are perfect for roasting and rotisserie cooking. They usually range between 2 1/2 and 5 pounds and can be up to 8 months old. Stewing chickens usually range from 10 to 18 months and weigh from 3 to 6 pounds. They're more flavorful but less tender, and are best stewed or braised.

Bon appetit!


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