Ever since native Americans introduced cranberries to the Thanksgiving table, it seems unthinkable to serve the holiday's turkey without at least one dish featuring this autumnal berry. It might be hard to believe that this tiny, garnet-red delicacy--of which America is the largest producer--continues to be largely unknown throughout the world. Cranberries remain quintessentially a North American staple. In Spanish, cranberries are called arandanos.
Rich in Vitamin C, cranberries are not suitable to eat raw as they are hard and sour. Pucker up sour. However, when they are combined with sugar and transformed through cooking into relishes, chutneys, and compotes, they become deliciously sweet and tender. Cranberries can be poached, baked, boiled, stewed, and candied; they marry famously with maple syrup and oranges.
Cranberries may be purchased fresh, dried or already prepared and processed into jellies, sauces, and juice. This is the ideal time to purchase them fresh, in bulk, so you can freeze them; once frozen, they will last well over a year in your freezer, ready to use in your favorite recipes. I find them way too delicious to enjoy solely on a rare yearly basis, so even though they are in season between October and December, you will find cranberries on my table year-round.
A simple cranberry sauce is the perfect accoutrement to any turkey but did you know that it is equally delicious when served as an accompaniment to pate and terrine? One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to serve homemade chicken liver pate surrounded by my own cranberry relish; I serve it with toast points for an easy and elegant appetizer.
The recipe I offer you today is very simple but very delicious. In fact, it is so versatile, that it makes its way into many of my recipes. I use it to fill unbaked muffins; to top creamy cheese cakes in place of traditional cherry topping; to glaze my holiday birds, and as a sweet contrast to a curried carrot soup (a small dollop does it).
Showcase this ubiquitously American berry this Thanksgiving season: swirl it into hot oatmeal or add it to trifles and pies. Serve cranberries alongside game, or pork and use them to top waffles. Cranberries will add the perfect touch to your holiday fare.
I will definitely feature it this year at our family table. And you can be sure it will make it into our favorite holiday meal: turkey, mayo, bacon and cranberry club sandwiches.
Cranberry and Brandy Relish
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed
2 cups water
1 stick Mexican cinnamon (canela)
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons Brandy
Place cranberries, water and cinnamon in a medium pot. Bring water to a boil; lower the heat and simmer until berries pop. Cook until thickened. Stir in sugar, until dissolved. Add vanilla and cloves and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in brandy; remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (remove cinnamon stick before serving). Yield 2- 1/4 cups.
Copyright. Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2009; All Rights Reserved.