It’s a good idea to get an early start on the food for Thanksgiving. Order your turkey now, and then let’s talk cranberries. Fresh cranberries are very high in vitamin C and they are available from October to December in the markets. Look for the freshest non-blemished or dark spotted cranberries in the plastic bag. If the bag is unopened, they keep for nearly two months in the refrigerator. Or toss the bag in the freezer for up to one year.
If you are tired of jellied cranberry sauce from a can, make this “do not serve to minors” Cranberry Wine Jelly that’s garnished with clusters of grapes. It’s almost like dessert. Or re-create my Grandmother’s Cranberry Mold that’s like a salad.
These two cranberry sauces are a perfect fit for a busy hostess who likes to plan ahead. The Cranberry Currant Walnut Sauce works well not only with turkey but also with game and meat entrées.
In 1998, my friend and fellow food and wine lover Margo heard about a Cranberry Cherry Sauce on a WCBS Newsradio broadcast. She has been serving it at Thanksgiving dinner ever since. Admittedly, I love to serve it with turkey and meat or cheese on other occasions. Bon appétit!
Cranberry Wine Jelly(Serves 8-10)6- to 8-cup decorative mold
1 envelope (1/4 cup) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
3/4 cups sugar
2 cups Madeira
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
Clusters of red and green grapes for garnishTo prepare:Rinse mold out with cold water and set aside.
In a small measuring cup, add gelatin to the water, stir well, let sit until softened. Set the cup in a pan of very hot water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved (it will look clear.)
Meanwhile, in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat, bring cranberry juice and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until dissolved. Taste and adjust the sweetness. Remove from the heat, add dissolved gelatin and cool about 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk the Madeira, lemon and orange juice into the cranberry juice. Taste and adjust the flavors. Pour into the mold, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to two days ahead.
To unmold, dip the bottom of the mold in a large bowl of hot water for about 20 seconds, wipe the water off the outside of the mold, invert onto a serving plate and pass at the table. Garnish with clusters of grapes.Grandmother’s Cranberry Mold(Serves 8-10 people)4-cup mold, lightly oiled with avocado oil
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup orange juice
2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over and washed
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lime (or less to taste)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery (About 2 stalks)
Celery leaves for garnishTo prepare:In a small cup, add gelatin to the orange juice, stir well, let sit until softened. Set the cup in a pan of hot water and stir until gelatin is dissolved (it will look clear.)
Working in the food processor bowl fitted with the stainless steel blade, add cranberries and pulse until coarsely chopped.
In a non-reactive saucepan over moderate-high heat, add orange juice and sugar, bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cranberries and simmer, uncovered for five to six minutes. Taste and adjust the sweetness. Stir in the dissolved gelatin and chill until it is nearly set.
Meanwhile, peel the strings off the celery with vegetable peeler, and then cut into thin slices.
With a rubber scraper, fold the orange and lime zest and celery into the cranberries. Drizzle avocado oil on a paper towel and lightly wipe the inside of the mold. Pour the cranberry mixture into the mold, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to three days before serving.
To unmold, dip the bottom of the mold in a bowl of warm water for about 20 seconds, wipe the water off the mold, invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with celery leaves. Cranberry Currant Walnut Sauce(About 3 cups)1 pound fresh cranberries, picked over and washed
1 cup red currant preserves
About 3/4 cup sugar or to taste
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zestTo prepare:In a non-reactive saucepan over moderate high heat, stir the cranberries, preserves, sugar, salt and water together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the cranberries are tender and “pop,” about 15 minutes. With a ladle, skim the foam off the top of the sauce.
Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the sweetness. Stir in the walnuts and orange zest until blended. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass jar, cover, and refrigerate. Can be stored up to three weeks in the refrigerator.Margo’s Cranberry-Cherry Sauce(About 6 cups)1 lemon, washed, cut into eighths, seeds removed
1 orange, washed, cut into eighths, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups whole fresh cranberries, picked over and washed
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar or more to taste
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup pitted cherries (preferably fresh or canned)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup water To prepare:In a large non-reactive saucepan over high heat, add lemon, orange, cranberries, sugar, raisins, cherries, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and water. Stir well, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the cover, reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until the cranberries are tender. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the sweetness. Cool to room temperature, remove the cinnamon stick, transfer to a clean glass jar, cover, and refrigerate. Can be stored up to one month.