Tradition has it that a Thanksgiving turkey dinner is not complete without a cranberry sauce. Tradition also has it that every November I find myself scratching my head, trying to reinvent a cranberry sauce. I have nothing against cranberries, mind you, nor a sauce, for that matter. I couldn’t imagine the holiday table without a heaping bowl of glistening ruby berries cooked to a sludge in a tart compote. Yet, for many years, I would make a simple cranberry sauce and present it at the table … and each year, I would wrap up the sauce after our dinner, nearly untouched, and store it in the refrigerator for goodness-knows-what future purpose.
So, now I make my cranberry sauce with a twist. If leftovers are imminent, then why not step out of the comfort zone and make a jazzy sauce that can be creatively repurposed? A straightforward cranberry sauce consists of cranberries and sugar, which (to me) is one-dimensional. I spice up my reimagined sauce, and transform it into what could also be called a chutney – in other words, a condiment that has legs: a tasty vibrant sauce that will carry me through the holiday and entertaining season.
Chutneys are a raucous slurry of dried and fresh fruit simmered with citrus and sugar, a glugg of juice or a splash of spirits, infused with winter spice and woodsy aromatics, with a kick of heat to wake up the palate. A chutney will not only provide puckery pizzazz to your Thanksgiving table, it will seamlessly multi-task beyond your turkey dinner. You can spread chutney on a sandwich, add it to a cheese and charcuterie board, dab it on cocktail crostini, or dollop it over a meaty roast. With this in mind, perhaps you should make a double recipe of this cranberry chutney for Thanksgiving. Then you will be assured of leftovers.
Cranberry Orange Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
12 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup port wine
3 coins cut from a finger of fresh ginger
1 (3-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
Zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the cranberries burst, and the chutney thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Discard the ginger, rosemary sprig, and cinnamon stick. Transfer the chutney to a glass container and refrigerate for at least one day to allow the flavors to develop. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month. Serve at room temperature.