fresh cranberry sauce with a kick

So I was hoping to get my camera back before this post so that I could post this recipe and with pictures, but unfortunately it’s still in the shop and will only be ready for pick-up tomorrow. I know that Thanksgiving has come and gone, but many of you may be gearing up to cook another turkey in a few weeks for Christmas and wanted to share this easy and delicious recipe with you. The best part is that you preserve all the vitamins of the cranberry by not cooking the berries. The result is a very refreshing, zingy sauce!

My first experience with cranberry sauce in America was with canned cranberry sauce – not exactly a great tasting condiment to your turkey. But subsequent experiments with cranberry sauce yielded tepid results – I liked the sauce fine enough, but never fell in love with it. This recipe is an old reincarnation of something we made in Russia with wild, hand-gathered-from-the-bog-by-my-father cranberries, which tasted quite different with a more intense, tart flavor and smaller berries. Every year, my father would set out with a few friends of his, on a three to four day trek, camping out in the woods and collecting cranberries and mushrooms. What he brought home, we would preserve for the winter and dry the mushrooms for soups, sauces and stews. The cranberries, we ground down with a hand-cranked (do you notice how many manual things we had to do in Russia?) food processor. And while it was a time-consuming process, I remember the texture vividly – much better than a food processor with a motor.

If you are making turkey (or a goose!) for Christmas this year, give this recipe a go! And if you have a go-to cranberry sauce recipe you’ve treasured and relied on for years, share it with us in the comments section. Again, sorry for lack of pictures, hopefully I’ll redeem myself next week!!

1 bag of fresh cranberries, washed and patted dry
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp (or more if you like) cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp bourbon (if you’re like me, you’ll go for the bourbon)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Don’t worry, while the cranberries macerate, they’ll produce enough juice to make the sauce actually look saucy. Taste to make sure it’s spicy and sweet enough for you – and if all tastes fine, stick the sauce in the refrigerator and cover with plastic wrap. I like my sauce on the tart side, so I keep the sugar amount low. I also like my sauce to have a kick, and so does my boyfriend, so we are quite generous with the cayenne. If the idea of putting cayenne into your cranberry sauce gives you the willies, omit the cayenne. The sauce should keep for up to a week – but is best the day after the preparation.

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