Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranberry Sauce with Wine & Spice

Glass Bowl of Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce
Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce

Recipe by Robin

“This is the worst cranberry sauce I’ve ever eaten in my life!” exclaimed my (former) brother-in-law about the first cranberry sauce I ever made. “Dear, we MADE that!” said my sister, using “we” diplomatically even though it was my idea, my recipe, my cooking. He made it clear that he preferred the canned jelly pillar to anything involving whole cranberries and oranges. He'd thought my sauce was store-bought because I had served it out of a recycled brown Ovaltine jar. I never got too creative with cranberry sauce again…until now.

Guy Buffet Cabernet Sauvignon, Cranberries, Orange, Lemon, Cinnamon, Sugar & Allspice
Just a Few Ingredients
I was thinking that Merlot would compliment cranberries well. When I did some online research, Cabernet Sauvignon, which happens to be my favorite red wine, seemed most popular for cranberry sauce, so I used that. Zinfandel and Port are also popular. I think a sweet berry wine like ollalieberry, raspberry, or blackberry could be used with good results if one reduced the quantity of sugar. For best flavor, use a quality wine with some fruity notes and moderate to low tannin content.

I put the allspice berries into a muslin bag for easy removal after the sauce is cooked. If you don’t have a muslin bag, double the quantity of allspice berries and strain them out before adding the cranberries and zest.

This dish got high marks at our all-adult Thanksgiving potluck. The alcohol evaporates during cooking, so it’s safe for children, but it is unknown whether most kids would appreciate the flavor and texture.

Plate of Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce
Whole Cranberries Add Texture
Spiced Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce
makes about 2 3/4 cups

12 oz. organic cranberries
1 1/8 cup sugar (1 c. plus 2 tbsp.)
1 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine
8 whole allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. grated orange zest

Put allspice berries into muslin bag. In medium saucepan, bring wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 – 15 minutes, till it smells spicy. Strain out allspice if you didn’t use a muslin bag.

Hot Cranberry Sauce with Wooden Spoon Stirring
"Encouraging" Cranberries to Pop
Add cranberries and lemon and orange zest. Bring to boil. Cook over medium high heat till all cranberries pop, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. You will probably need to “encourage” some berries to pop by squishing them against the side of the saucepan with the stirring spoon.

Put cranberry sauce into serving dish. Cool. Stir once or twice during cooling to break up gelatinous texture to a more “berries-in-jelly” texture. Chill before serving, or serve at room temperature.

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