As you can see, I’m not quite ready to give up on the thanksgiving-related posts quite yet! One reason: some thanksgiving-related crap is available ONLY at this time of year, including one of my favorites, fresh organic cranberries. Sadly, cranberries convey a certain “ew”-ness among the many of us who have only experienced them in the shape of a cylindrical gelatinous mass, replete with the horizonal lines of the can. Sickly sweet industrialized fake jiggly fake red fake jello, mmmm!! But if you reverse-engineer this glop back to its source, and can find a few cups of real, no-spray organic berries, and treat them with some breakaway respect, we discover an intensely flavorful and healthful new addition to our ever-expanding repetoire of great ingredients.
It’s rare for my pals over at the Chow conference on the Well to unanimously agree on much, but a certain boozy cranberry sauce has had them swooning for a long time; it’s become the “official” sauce of Chow.The booze is port, and it’s terrific with cranberries. along with various dried fruit and a good glug of balsamic vinegar.
The sauce, which I’m calling chutney, is easily the best condiment for turkey sandwiches that I’ve had. I’ve also made a baked tofu with it that wowed the house critic and a guest (the dukkha topping–more on this wildly delicious discovery soon–didn’t hurt), scrambled eggs with it, and used it as part of deep-red sauce I made for broiled pork loins. It makes everything it touches taste like magic.
The official recipe asked for dried mission figs, but I substituted crystallized ginger and dried apricots, and used jaggery (Indian raw sugar, very caramelly) instead of white sugar (which is officially called white-ass sugar in our house, and is labeled as such), and tossed in a chopped-up manzano chile (my favorite chile — I’ll write about this chile in detail soon as well) to pack a little heat.
I don’t normally include specific recipes here — the whole idea of this blog is one of idea generation, and to leave the details in your capable hands — but I think that there’s not much that’s intuitive about fresh cranberries, so here we go. Give it a try, you’ll thank me!
BOOZY CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
- 2/3 cup port (use ruby, not tawny)
- 1/4 cup balsamic
- 1/2 cup jaggery
- one cup chopped up dried fruit combo: crystallized ginger, apricots, currants, or any other fruit
- 1 manzano chile, seeded and chopped (habanero would work well too)
- pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
Combine everything except the cranberries in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. You’ll need to stir quite a bit to dissolve the jaggery. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for another ten minutes. Add cranberries, and cookuntil the berries start to pop, stirring often. Continue to cook for another five minutes or so, or until it’s as smooth or chunky as you’d like it to be. Taste for sweetness/sourness. If it’s too tangy for you, add a little sweetener (more jaggery, maple syrup, honey, agave, anything but white-ass sugar). Let cool a bit, and transfer to a large jar. Keeps for a few weeks (or longer) in the fridge if it’s tightly sealed.
(PS — I’m headed for Chicago tomorrow. If anyone knows of any especially good places to eat/shop there, I’d be hugely grateful if you emailed me. Thanks.)