I’m surely not alone in recalling childhood holiday dinners where the cranberry sauce came from a can. Do you remember watching your mother take the lid off the can and then tip it until the solid, quivering cranberry log — like dense gelatin — slid out with a sucking, slurpish sound? Mmm, may I have a second helping please?
So here’s a concept: suppose we start our cranberry sauce with actual cranberries? In shades from ruby red to bright scarlet, sweetened to quell their natural and rather severe tartness, and combined with other good flavours like orange, lemon and apple. Let’s throw in some raisins too, and some nuts. Gone is that log of staid, trembling, utterly boring smoothness, replaced by a medley of flavours, colours and textures.
All this said, generally only a scant 25 percent of the people around my table will eat my jazzy cranberry compote (oh, the Offspring are so selective in their tastes), but the ones that do request it every year. In fact, I make enough for my discerning cranberry regulars to take leftovers home with them.
You know, it’s occurred to me that I’ve been making cranberry sauce like this for many years now. It’s time for an update. So, after passing this recipe along to you, the wheels are turning … After a holiday meal sometime in the future you may see another post about taking it to a new level in the cranberry department.
This recipe is lightly adapted from Ina Garten’s ‘Cranberry Fruit Conserve’ in Barefoot Contessa Parties! This year I switched it up a bit by using brown sugar in a smaller quantity than her recipe calls for white sugar. I’ve always used golden raisins in my compote, but I didn’t have any when I was doing my Thanksgiving prep. Instead of going to the store, I opted to use dark Thompson raisins instead. What can I say, I was sorry. Yes, the type of raisins you use does matter.
- 1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 medium-sized apple, cored and chopped (I leave the peel on; I usually use Granny Smith as Ina recommends, but this year I used a Royal Gala)
- Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup golden raisins (note, my photos show Thompson raisins)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Put the cranberries, brown sugar and water in a medium-sized pan and heat over low heat until the berries open. Add the apple and the orange and lemon zest and juice and cook for about 15 minutes over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins and nuts.
Let the gorgeously jewel-tone mixture cool, during which time it will thicken, then decant into storage containers or serving dishes, cover and refrigerate. Serve cold. You can make this a day ahead and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
This compote makes an excellent condiment for turkey sandwiches in the post-holiday use-up-the-bird marathon.
One Year Ago: Dessert First ❊ Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake
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That looks fantastic Marlene! I always make my own cranberry sauce but definitely need to try a compote. I could just dig in with a spoon.
Thanks Redawna. I’ve done the compote for so many years now I’m thinking of going for something a little more adventurous next time, like a chutney. We’ll see!
No better recommendation for a cranberry dish can be given than the one found in your post’s last sentence. If the cranberries do not play well with the rest of my leftover turkey sandwich ingredients, they do not belong on my Thanksgiving table. I take my turkey sandwiches very seriously, Mar.
Sandwiches aside, this does look fantastic and fitting for a celebratory meal. Cranberries sure have com a long way since the days of the jiggly, can-shaped cylinder.
I can see that I should make sure I don’t stand between you and your turkey sandwiches, John! I agree with you, cranberry sauce on a turkey sandwich is heavenly!
Did you grow up with that solid blob of jelly in a can, plopped onto the table in a dish and called “cranberry sauce?” I did. Yuck.
Life has been so much better since I discovered real cranberries, and how easy it is to use them in making dishes.
Yes, I did, and I certainly didn’t like it! I agree, starting with real cranberries makes all the difference.
I’ve never been a fan of cranberry “sauce.” But this? This looks amazing!!!
All it needs is a little ballerina on top! Maybe this recipe will convert you to a cranberry sauce aficionado!
Wow, damn, i’m craving on it now…
i just pan fried a barramundi fillet and i guess this could be a goos pairing within your sauce…
This cranberry compote is quite easy to make, so you’ll be quickly able to satisfy that craving! I’ve never tried it with fish, but I think it would complement it nicely. Thank you!
Love your beautiful bowl of cranberry compote…it looks like a bowl of red jewels.
What a lovely description, Karen – thank you!
A beautiful post Mar….great pictures and again it has left me craving the taste of the food…this time the sauce!
I had fun with the pictures for this one. I’ve been experimenting with some new editing tools for my iPhone photos, as you can see from the shot with the special effects. It was fun. Oh, and by the way, I’m glad you enjoyed the cranberry compote!
Greatest of minds think alike, Mar:D I made something very similar.. switching up ingredients and I was so pleased with the results. I haven’t blogged it yet.. so I will link back here when I do:) I really loved mine, we had it on grilled cheese sandwiches last night.. I think it’s the crunch of the nuts that I love best! xx
Great idea, Barb, to use this cranberry compote as a condiment with grilled cheese. I think you’re on to something. And yes, I agree, we have great minds, LOL. Looking forward to your post! (And now I’m going to check back to make sure I haven’t missed it … behind on my blog reading again, sigh …)
[…] season, and this year I decided I would use these tart superfruits in more than my Thanksgiving cranberry compote. Last week they played a co-starring role in this apple cranberry coffee cake. With dinner and […]