Cranberry Sauce

There is no better time to practice your cheffing skills than when you're making cranberry sauce; so many opportunities to get creative and make it work with a specific meal. And cranberry sauce can be made days ahead of use which makes it the perfect holiday accompaniment. The recipe on the package calls for sugar, water and cranberries; three opportunities to change it up. Let's start with sweetener options. You could use brown sugar or honey for some of the sweetener. Maybe some molasses or maple syrup or agave syrup for all or part. Are there any jams in the fridge that need to be used? For the liquid you could use any fruit juice. I had some black cherry juice that needed to be used and so that took the place of the water. My mother-in-law used to add a little port to her sauce before cooking and that gave it real depth and a lovely distinctive taste. For the cranberries, you would never want to omit them but you could supplement the sauce with additional fruits like pineapple, mango, and dried fruits like dates, currants and raisins. Some of my favorite added ingredients are grated orange and lemon rind. Toasted nuts are yummy and are best added once the sauce has cooled. While the sauce is simmering add a stick of cinnamon or a few cloves or allspice berries or a cardamon pod or two. On an earlier post we talked about the addition of dried chilies to impart smokiness or kick. And then there are the leftovers to look forward to. Spread some cranberry sauce on a sandwich or dip a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich generously into the tangy sauce. Make a salad dressing for a green salad by starting with a simple vinaigrette and then adding a spoonful or two of cranberry sauce and blending things well. Serve it on pancakes, waffles or french toast with a dollop of cream or sweetened yogurt. And remember, that turkey is not the only meat that goes well with cranberries. A pork loin or tenderloin are good companions. Chicken or course as well as lamb. Go crazy!

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