For some odd reason, most people enjoy cranberry sauce once a year only.  I am part of that crowd, reserving cranberry sauce to sit next to the Thanksgiving turkey, in its yearly appearance. This year I could not make it for Thanksgiving because we had a potluck-type celebration. Instead, the “annual sauce” showed up a few weeks later, with delicious turkey leftovers that were waiting in our freezer.  I wanted a truly special recipe, and I hit gold with this version recommended by my  friend Cindy. Dried Mission figs and Port wine mingle with cranberries, for an outcome that will make you reconsider the silly idea of once-a-year cranberry sauce.


(adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2001)

1⅔ cups ruby Port
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed, chopped
1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce
heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Discard rosemary.
Mix in cranberries and sugar. Cook over
medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and
berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Cool. Transfer sauce to bowl; chill until cold.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  The dried Mission figs are a must in this recipe, and of course the Port wine takes it over the top.  Cranberry sauce can be a bit one-dimensional in texture, as the berries get all soft and mushy, even if you try to avoid cooking them to death.  The figs offer a little body to the sauce, and contribute great flavor.  The main modification of this recipe from its version  in Bon Appetit was a reduction of sugar (it originally calls for 3/4 cup).  If you have a particularly sweet tooth and like your sauce to be real sweet, go for the full amount.   We prefer to keep some of the sourness of the cranberries, particularly when serving it with roast meats.  Of course, you should not use a vintage Port wine for this recipe, it would be painful for your wallet.  Go with a simple Sandeman Ruby Port and call it a day.  Or call it a year! 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Edamame Dip


THREE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night


  1. I too mostly reserve cranberry sauce for only the turkey day event but have recently carried it through Dec – january as I buy and freeze so many bags! I’ve made a sauce before with port wine and love the deep flavor but the addition of figs is new to me. I like having a bit of texture and bite in my sauce too so I’m excited to try this out!


  2. I’m so glad you blogged about that recipe. I am making a batch today. Of all the recipes I tried for the first time in 2012 it is one of my 2 favorites. The other was Martha Rose Shulman’s slow-baked beans and kale. A close runner up was the butternut squash, apple, and cranberry dish I made for Thanksgiving.


    • It’s a gem of a recipe indeed, thanks again for pointing me in its direction…. well, with so many recipes that you have under your belt, I do think it’s about time you start a food blog! I will be a subscriber from day one!


  3. Cranberry (jelly form right out of the can with the ring marks evident) was introduced to our Christmas table for the first time by my nephew, when he was a little guy, who insisted on this item being present.

    My mom (Romanian from the former Yugoslavia) wasn’t familiar with the dish, nor was she fond of sweet sides with meat, but agreed to serve it to make him happy. He and his mom (and rarely, my brother) would serve themselves some from the bowl in which it was presented and the rest remained untouched.

    One day, I must try to make the real thing as your recipe sounds very tasty indeed.


    • The first time I had something sweet with meats was in Germany – a venison roast served with a type of berry concoction. It was absolutely delicious, and I am so glad I tried it! After that experience I tried mint jelly with leg of lamb in the US, and also enjoyed it, although not as much as the German meal.

      As to the canned version, I know that people who grew up enjoying it, cannot live without during the holidays. I have never tried it, though. The rings are kind of cute…. 😉


      • I think the meat/fruit was a personal aversion of my mom’s as she never served pork chops/apple sauce, ham/pineapple, duck/cherries or duck/orange, lamb/mint jelly etc. I’m willing to try SOME of the combinatons. As a matter of fact, I’m making duck for New Year’s day and am still undecided on whether to serve it with orange glaze (forgot to buy orange marmalade though) or cherries.


  4. I’ve actually made cranberry sauce twice this season, and I have a bag of cranberries in the freezer. Guess what I’ll be making!!! This looks and sounds amazing. I’m thinking a special date night dinner.🙂


  5. I’m one of those who buys cranberries and freezes them. I love them and often use cranberry sauce as a condiment for sandwiches. If this sauce is as good as I think it is, I had better buy a few more bags. Glad, too, that you reduced the sugar. One of the things I enjoy about cranberries is their tartness. Why bury it in sugar?
    Thanks, Sally, and I hope 2013 is a great year for you and your family.


    • My advice: leave the 27th behind, and move on to a great recovery meal on the 29th… or 30th… or 31st 😉

      THe other day I had a huge flop in my dinner prep – one of those recipes that are very involved and simply did not deliver anything. Looked bad, tasted blah. I guess it happens…🙂 Gotta take the good with the bad…


  6. Hi There, This post is looking great! It was a real delight to see and learn so much from your each and every post. Hope to see more of your creative endeavours in the new year. Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!! Happy Holidays🙂
    Love & Regards, Sonia !!!


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