While thinking about Thanksgiving I saw fresh cranberries this week and decided to try something new. But first, something old…the name of the berry. The Pilgrims called it the crane-berry because the flower resembled a crane’s bill. Cranberries were not known in Europe, so the Pilgrims learned ways of using these tart berries from the Indians. One way? Mashing them into venison or other meat to make a type of jerky.
I don’t know who first started the trend of roasting cranberries with jalapeño, but what a great way to create a fun play between tart, sweet, spicy and even smoky. The Saveur version has you roast the cranberries, jalapeño, and orange peel together, then sweeten with port. Other versions use sugar, brandy, or maple syrup for sweetness. Many include orange juice for sweetness and to hit that classic cranberry-orange pairing. Whichever recipe you try, fire-roasting cranberries is a great idea.
Not a jalapeño fan? Don’t skip the roasted cranberries! Roasting intensifies their flavor produces a luscious texture you can’t match boiling them in water. They add a great pop of color and tartness to fall vegetables.
New things to try
This recipe for Roasted Chicken + Smoked Gouda Enchiladas w/Fire Roasted Tomatillo Cranberry Sauce sounded so good I made a batch of the Tomatillo Cranberry sauce as a proof of concept. The cranberry-tomatillo combination is bright against the deep roasted garlic flavor.
Brighten fall veggies
After last week’s blog on Kabocha squash, I decided to modify this cranberry, butternut and burrata salad recipe to feature the slightly sweeter Kabocha (my new favorite fall squash). As the recipe’s author notes, “roasting… squash and cranberries together creates a sweet, tangy relish that’s the perfect pairing for creamy burrata cheese.”
This simple relish takes advantage of the sweetness of the orange to balance the tartness of the cranberry. You may have a version of your own, but here’s one I’ve often prepared. You can prepare the relish stove top or in the wood-fired oven. (In the oven, you won’t need the cup of water and you’ll get a more intense cranberry flavor.)
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup orange marmelade
1 cup water
Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Cool and refrigerate.
Super-easy cranberry muffins
Easy quick breads like muffins and banana bread are a great use of down-cycle oven heat. After baking bread (or the morning after making pizza) your oven temperature could be just right for a batch of these easy gluten-free cranberry muffins. This recipe features almond flour instead of wheat. The almond makes for a rich buttery muffin, perfect to set off the bright tartness of fresh (or roasted) cranberries.
I asked a friend to describe cranberries and here’s a thumb-nail of the answer: they’re round, red, tart, full of anti-oxidants, and loaded with history. As you begin planning for Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear about your favorite dishes, especially if you have a cranberry specialty.