Thursday, November 19, 2009
Herbs for the Holidays -- Cranberries
Welcome to the next segment of Herbs for the Holidays.
I recently read an article in one of my favorite bogs about that gelatinous tube of cranberry that was always served by our mothers, glimmering, shimmering and somewhat intimidating.
Over the years I have experimented with various cranberry sauce ideas, without ever finding the one that I absolutely had to have every year. I had some with hot pepper, some with green peppers and celery, one with corn, and a lot of other varieties. One year, my sister's contribution to my mothers Thanksgiving dinner was four different cranberry sauces.
Finally a few years back, Diann made one with mandarin oranges and walnuts that has turned into a keeper.
But I wanted to explore some ways to incorporate herbs into our Holiday meals, so I found some different recipes.
The first one seems more like a gravy and less like traditional cranberry sauces, (which I suppose are more of a relish than a sauce, when it comes right down to it.)
Cranberry Herb Sauce
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
2-1/2 cups water
2 cups dry red wine
2/3 cup honey
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
4 whole bay leaves
5 drops Worcestershire sauce
Dash ground red pepper
Cook and stir onions and garlic in oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until onions are softened. Add cranberries, water, wine, honey, bouillon, thyme, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about I hour or until mixture reduces by half, stirring frequently. Remove and discard bay leaves. Puree sauce in blender or food processor or press through sieve. (The sauce will be the consistency of a thick gravy.)
Serve with poultry, lamb or pork. Also wonderful over dressing or sweet potatoes.
Tip: This sauce freezes well.
This next one sounds good, It has quite a bit of sugar in it, but you could use Splenda, Honey, or whatever substitute you choose.
Herb-infused, Spiced Cranberry-Orange Relish
1/2 orange with skin on, cut up for ease of blending
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 cinnamon stick (2-1/2 inches)
3 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup port (optional but recommended)
2 (12-ounce) bags fresh cranberries
In a food processor or blender blend orange and orange juice concentrate until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a medium pot and add cinnamon, cloves, rosemary or thyme, sugar, water and port.
Bring mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Add the cranberries and simmer until the cranberries burst and mixture starts to thicken, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir often to keep from burning.
Place relish into a container and refrigerate.
When chilled, remove the cinnamon stick, rosemary and thyme.
Here is one of those recipes you can make the day before, in fact, it's better if you do.
I wouldn't suggest it as a healthy alternative to fresh fruit or anything, but it looks interesting.
Baked Cranberry Sauce.
•1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
•1 1/4 cups brown sugar
•1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch allspice
•1/4 cup bourbon,
•1 T fresh Rosemary, chopped
•1 t fresh Thyme, chopped
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Combine the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in a small baking dish and cover.
3.Bake for about 55 minutes.
4.Remove the cover and stir to melt any un-dissolved sugar. Return the dish to the oven and bake for about 5 to 10 more minutes, or until the cranberries are soft and surrounded by a syrupy sauce.
5.Remove the dish from the oven and immediately stir in the bourbon, Rosemary and Thyme. Let the dish cool to room temperature, then chill for at least hour before serving. The sauce will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Troy's Trivia Tidbit:
Allspice is made from the ground dried berries of the Pimento tree, also known as the East Indian Pepper Tree. Incidentally, Pimentos, like the ones found inside green olives, do not come from the pimento tree. Pimentos are just red bell peppers, usually cooked. And also incidentally, most green bell peppers will turn red if left on the vine.
Some people prefer the traditional approach to cranberries and some opt for the less conventional accents. Sara Foster, owner of Foster's Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, makes two batches of relish: one enhanced with citrus to suit more traditional tastes, and the other with seven-pepper jelly for those who love the spicy flavor.
For best results, use fresh cranberries -- never frozen -- and the best oranges you can find. Presented with the individual tastes of guests in mind, cranberry relish served two ways can be a thoughtful addition to this year's Thanksgiving table.
Cranberry Relish, served two ways.
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
4 oranges, segmented, pith and membranes removed
1 cup seven-pepper jelly
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme
1.In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a simmer. Add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest. Stir until sugar is dissolved and the cranberries begin to pop, about 15 minutes.
2.Remove from heat. Divide relish in half, reserving half. Add orange segments to half of the cranberries. Stir to combine.
3.Add pepper jelly and fresh herbs to the remaining half. Stir to combine. Serve relishes in separate dishes.
I have to admit, my favorite way to eat cranberry sauce is to eat it cold, on cold turkey, tucked inside a homemade roll, often eaten after midnight while standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide whether I want something to eat bad enough to get out all the containers and fix a plate.
So, whether you want the shimmering simplicity of a can of jelly in a cut glass bowl, or you want a cranberry relish that everyone will actually eat, make sure and make enough so that you can enjoy the leftovers.