Monday, November 06, 2006

Cranberry-orange jelly

If you're hosting any sort of holiday gathering - or attending one where you've been requested to bring food - nothing seems to impress people more than homemade cranberry sauce. I don't know why, since it's actually really easy to make. It's also one of those things that tends to taste much better homemade. I couldn't find my fave recipe (no clue where it came from, even), so I tried to approximate it tonight. It came out very well, and just as tart as I like it!

1 lb. bag cranberries (fresh, NOT dried!)
1 c. water
zest and juice of 2 medium oranges (you can leave out the zest if you don't have a grater)
2/3 c. sugar (add up to 1 c. to taste)
pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
5-10 whole cloves (or pinch ground)
1 whole star anise (optional, but very cool)
1 1/2 c. water [replace up to a cup of this with a good red wine for more depth of flavor]

Stir everything together in a large saute pan or medium saucepan. The cranberries should be covered by liquid. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer (turn heat down to medium) and cook about 10 minutes; don't worry about stirring. While it is simmering, you will start to hear the cranberries popping out of their skin - you should continue to simmer until the popping stops.

Turn the heat down to low and taste. If it is too sour, add a little extra sugar at this point. Cook another 5-10 minutes with stirring - this allows some of the water to boil off and the sauce to thicken a bit. It will thicken a lot more upon cooling, but you can serve it warm if you like.

I love to eat this on toast (as pictured), as a side dish, in turkey sandwiches, or on top of a simply prepared roast chicken breast... in fact, I don't even know how long it keeps because I've never had leftovers longer than a week! This recipe should serve 6-10 as a side dish.

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