Tomorrow is the day we add dollops of cranberry sauce to our plates of turkey. Whether the turkey is roasted, deep fat fried, smoked or baked in a bag, this traditional condiment adds a flavorful acidic touch to the fat laden Thanksgiving meal.
The cranberry’s botanical name, vaccinium oxycoccos, literally means “cow.” Food historian Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food 1999, says that cows (vacco) enjoy eating cranberries and that is how cranberries got their name! Cranberries historical significance in America dates back to the 1864, when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered that it be served to the troops during the siege of Petersburg. Although it was the Native Americans who first noticed the natural preservative powers of these berries, it was when they began socializing with the Pilgrims in 1672, that cranberry pies and tarts started showing up on the Thanksgiving table.
There are many recipes for cranberry sauce. I created this recipe because it uses a delicious bottle of one of my favorite wines, Zinfandel.
Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce Recipe
1 (12 ounce) package cranberries, fresh
2+ cups of red Zinfandel wine (choose one with lots of spiciness)
½ c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Vietnamese cinnamon
1 c. white sugar
1 T. black peppercorns
1 t. whole cloves
In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, wine, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon. If you’re unsure about how sweet the sauce will be, begin with one-half c. sugar, add more to taste.
Place the peppercorns and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie shut. Add to the pot. Bring the berries to a boil, then reduce to medium-low.
The cranberries will cook completely in 20-30 minutes, bursting and turning deep red. In the last few minutes of cooking, taste for sweetness and stir sugar in more as desired. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Remove the spices. Store in a clean jar. Can be kept for several weeks in the refrigerator.
What to do with the leftover sauce
This sauce is great on Thanksgiving Day, but usually there is an abundance of leftovers. Here are 15 ideas on ways to use up the sauce:
- Add 1/2 cup to pancake batter to make cranberry pancakes.
- Mix with cream cheese and smear on a fresh bagel for breakfast.
- Place a block of cream cheese on a plate, top with Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce, and serve with crackers for a quick and tasty appetizer. Or, alternatively, warm a block of Brie cheese in the oven, and top with the sauce.
- Mix with a tablespoon of cream cheese, and use as a spread for your favorite chicken or turkey sandwich.
- Using freshly ground turkey, chicken, or pork, make Cranberry Meatballs substituting cranberry sauce for tomato sauce.
- Mix with a tablespoon or two of orange juice and use as a glaze for a pork roast, or grilled pork chops.
- Add to a homemade muffin mix, along with a 1/2 cup of walnuts.
- Add to your favorite BBQ sauce to baste over baked or grilled chicken.
- Cube baked sweet potatoes and mix with toasted walnuts and minced parsley. Add cranberry sauce to a few tablespoons of olive oil and drizzle in mixture to make a healthy salad.
- Mix a few tablespoons with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and red wine vinegar to create a tangy salad dressing.
- Puree with cream cheese to make a cranberry dip.
- Using your favorite type of milk (whole, 2%, rice, soy or almond), add 1/4 cup with a sliced banana, 1 T. honey or agave juice, and ice to turn into a cranberry smoothie.
- Make a quesadilla using cooked shredded turkey or chicken, chopped kale, your favorite cheese, cumin, and chili powder placed in corn tortillas. Sauté on both sides until warm.
- Warm sauce in microwave and drizzle over vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.
- Add to homemade apple pie, or pear crisp, recipes for a festive twist on dessert.