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.
CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH PORT AND DRIED FIGS
(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.
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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
TWO YEARS AGO: Gougeres
THREE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night