Savory Cranberry Sauce

I have a strong affinity for can-shapped cranberry sauce. The log of congealed super-sweetened cranberry juice, laid out on a plate, the ridges from the can intact, is a memory from my childhood that holds a special place for me. As I’ve grown older though I’ve learned that there can be more flavor in something made fresh, even if you use a frozen ingredient.

Savory Cranberry Sauce
Servings: about 3 cups of sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups roughly chopped red onion (about 1 1/2 onions)
  • 1 lb. cranberries (fresh or frozen, either is fine)
  • 1/2 cup honey.
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil to a large sauce pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to coat the onions with the oil. Cook for about 10minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Lower heat if the onions start to brown.
  2. Add the cranberries, honey and lemon zest. Stir until everything is combined, raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cook for ~20 minutes, again stirring occasionally. As the cranberries cook they will burst, releasing pectin into the sauce, which will help it thicken..
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt and/or pepper to your liking. As it cools the sauce will thicken. Serve warm or chilled; either works.

Notes:
You can use still frozen cranberries in this dish though it will likely take 5-10 minutes longer.

This will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

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Buttermilk Ice Cream

This ice cream was an excellent foil to the sweetness of the Cranberry-Pistachio Crumble we served on Christmas Eve. It has a lovely tang and rich taste.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
Servings: 1 quart
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 8 hours cooling
Total time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until slightly lightened in color.
  2. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over low heat with the sugar, honey and salt until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let cream reach a boil; the sugar should be dissolved well before that. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Vigorously whisk the yolks while adding a ladle of hot cream in a slow stream. Repeat until about half of the cream has been mixed in. Return egg/cream mixture to sauce pan and combine. Return to low heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes; stirring regularly. The mixture should thicken slightly.
  4. Remove from heat, strain and cool for 20 minutes. Add the buttermilk, stir until fully incorporated. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. When you are ready to churn the ice cream add the extract into the chilled sweetened cream.  Freeze according to your manufacturer’s ice cream maker instructions.  For me that is ~25 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Notes:
Step 3 is very important. You need to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs otherwise they will scramble. Slowly adding the hot cream while whisking the eggs will allow you to do this. Don’t trust the TV show host who pours a cup of hot liquid into their eggs and then picks up a whisk. Two good examples are Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode The Proof Is In The Pudding or any episode of America’s Test Kitchen that deals with ice cream or pudding.

Demerara, or turbinado sugar, is also referred to as raw sugar. At one time it was only available from higher end grocery emporiums or natural food stores. I found it next to the agave and sweeteners in the baking aisle at our local mega-mart.

You can substitute a tablespoon of bourbon, whiskey, etc. for the vanilla extract if you wish. You add it after the mixture is cool so that the heat of the liquid doesn’t dissipate the aromatic components.

I referred to several recipes when coming up with my version including ones from Joy the Baker, Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appétit.

Honey-glazed Rutabaga

I was looking for an alternative preparation for rutabaga; boiling or roasting get a tad boring after a while. A bit of web surfing brought me to a dead link for “honey rutabaga” and eventually I found Honey-Honey Rutabaga. I have not idea what that name means however I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s my take on it with a bit of tweaking and rewritten in my own words.

Honey-glazed Rutabaga
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (give or take)
  • 4 Tbsp. Rye Whiskey
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. candied tangerine peel, chopped fine
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the rutabaga in a sauce pan and add water. Fill the pan so that the rutabaga is covered by at least 1″ of water. Add about 1 Tbsp. kosher salt to the water and heat over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes. Check periodically to see if you can pierce a largish piece with the tip of a paring knife. If you can reach the center the piece with a minimum of pressure then it is done. Drain and hold.
  2. Wipe the sauce pan clean with a paper towel. Off heat add the whiskey, butter, honey and tangerine peel. Return to medium heat and stir until the butter melts. When all ingredients have combined cook at a slight boil until the sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Return the rutabagas to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce. Taste, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Notes:
I’ve found that the best way to “peel” a rutabaga is to split it in half and then “shave” off the peel with a chef’s knife. A vegetable peeler usually doesn’t work well for me.

I’m a home cook. While I try to make my cubes 1″ square they often range anywhere from 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ with a bunch of odd bits from the rounded parts of the vegetable. Cut yourself some slack (unless you are asking someone to pay you for your cooking, then make it pretty).

The original recipe called for the unspecific “whiskey”; I used Russell’s Reserve Rye because it is what we keep in the house. You could substitute something like apple juice if you wanted to skip the booze.