Cranberry-Apple-Orange sauce

Cranberry-Apple-Orange sauce

Merry Christmas!

This month, I’ve chosen to feature cranberry sauce because most families have their highly- prized, top- secret recipes for their turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, and especially gravy. (Refer to November 2019 for my all-purpose chicken gravy/ cheese sauce recipe.) Yet, I always notice that at the family table, among everyone’s finest culinary presentations, there is that one dish of maroon-colored gelatinous, can-shaped cranberry flavored-corn starch, blob which looks about as appetizing as a the giant blood clot that killed the Woolly Mammoth. Folks, if this applies to you, there is a severe deficit of love on that plate which resonates with a jiggle of sadness and you’ve suffered for long enough, it’s time for a change.

In full disclosure, this recipe is sort of a non-gourmet variation of Gordon Ramsay’s cranberry-apple sauce from his holiday special on the BBC, where he uses all fresh produce & makes difficult concepts look easy. His recipe is not easy, I’ve made it many times, which is why I swapped out all the fresh produce and unnecessary prep that goes with it so you can whip this up quickly with shelf-stable products. It should be made days ahead of being served since it takes a few days for the flavors come together. It still tastes absolutely amazing and along with turkey dinner, it works very well in a cobbler, or my favorite… with a Monte Cristo sandwhich!

   We start by draining whole liter bottle of red wine, I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon (pardon my French), into a stock pot. Add a few spices: Bay leaf, Star Anise, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Allspice, and black peppercorns. Bring this to a boil to remove the alcohol, steep the spices (just a pinch of each), and reduce by half it’s volume in a stock pot. You will need to sweeten things slightly so half a cup of either caramel, honey, maple syrup, unsulfered molasses, or brown sugar are equally good. Just remember that this is supposed to be tart.

Next, fill a second pot or pan with three cans of Bold Rock Hard Cider and again bring to a boil to both reduced it and set it on the straight and narrow. At this point, you can break open a 6 ounce bag of Ocean Spray Craisins (dried cranberries) and dump them into the Bold Rock as it comes to a boil. This will make the cranberries soft. As the hard cider reduces in volume, zest and juice three oranges into your cranberries. Cut some of the rind up into julienne and save until the end just for visual appeal (pun intended).

   Strain the red wine reduction to remove the large pieces of herbs. If both liquids have reduced enough to fit into one pot, combine them and add two packages of Knox gelatin or two tablespoons of powdered pectin. Don’t use corn starch in this or it will reduce the flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer pink Himalayan sea salt for dishes such as this one. I don’t think it’s possible to over power with orange, so if you prefer more orange flavor go for it and let’s see what your family thinks just to be sure.   Out of my own curiosity, what would you do differently? Zest various citrus? Try white wine? Use mulling spices? Use only fresh cranberries? Add cherries? Blueberries? Service Berry? Oh, admit it gardeners are the best cooks and I really enjoy the wisdom among you.
Have a very wonderful holiday season, see you at the Christmas party!
Thomas Wilson

Cranberry sauce served with Shepherd’s Pie.
Photo: Tom Wilson

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