December 1, 2013

Bog Heaven

Every turkey needs the perfect cranberry sauce, and this one did not disappoint.  If you're taking on the task of making the entire Thanksgiving meal, this is one dish you can make in advance.  In fact, it tastes better if you make it a couple days in advance because it allows all the flavors to really develop as they mix and meld together.

For each bag of cranberries, you'll want 1 cup of red wine and 1 cup of sugar.  We had 2 bags of cranberries, so we started with 2 cups of wine and 2 cups of sugar.  You can use any kind of wine you like.  If you want sweeter cranberries use a sweeter wine.  If you want to highlight the tartness, use something more tannic. We just happened to have some cranberry wine on hand, which really added a cranberry punch to our sauce.  Let it simmer and reduce on the stove until you end up with a thin syrup.
Once it's syrupy, add in your cranberries.  I like my cranberry sauce to still have some whole cranberries, while Justin likes them to really cook down, so we compromised.  We added about 3/4 of our cranberries to the sauce initially, and let them cook down.  Then we added the rest towards the end, just so they could soften, but still stay whole.  If you want them to all cook down, add them all at once.  If you want them to be more whole, just cook them less.
Give your berries a good toss in your syrup, and just let them sit on the stove and simmer away.  You'll start to hear them pop as they cook.  Then you'll want to add in a liberal amount of black pepper, and just a tiny dash of salt to help cut the sweetness, along with some chopped mint, and orange zest. Fresh herbs and a little citrus help balance the dish and make for a more complex flavor profile.
Once you have your desired consistency, you can pull it off the stove, and transfer it to your serving dish. Just remember to pull it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve it, just to take the chill off it.  Garnish with a sprig of mint, and voila, a delicious side dish, fresh out of the bog.

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