Spiced Cranberry, Ginger, and Pear Sauce

I was recently asked to be a guest blogger for the wonderful heart-healthy food blog What Would Cathy Eat? Cathy asked for a cranberry sauce for thanksgiving, that was less sweet than usual.  Here is the post and recipe below, in case you hadn't caught it on her site.  --Catie

For years, as a child at the 1970’s American thanksgiving table, I too believed that cranberry sauce was always cylindrically shaped, with neatly organized parallel rings encompassing it. That is not to say that my family were not great cooks, slaving for days before over dozens of homemade recipes. However, somehow that little wobbly dish seemed like a required fixture on the holiday table, that someone very well might miss if absent. Though it felt far from “food” and as a result, usually went untouched.

It also seemed somewhat sacrilegious to think of smearing that puckeringly sweet jelly on that luscious turkey meat that I had waited an entire year for. How could this red goo possibly improve on roasted perfection?

So I took a crack at it myself this year. Drawing on ideas of recipes like Duck with a Sour Cherry Sauce, or a deeply flavored Indian Chutney stirred into a chicken salad, ending up with a condiment that I would actually want to add to my turkey to add to it’s flavor. I eliminated a lot of the sugar found it most recipes (up to a cup of white sugar was common). It’s on the tart end of the spectrum, but balanced, with lovely spice notes that will be beautiful with the richness of the meat. I think it would also be outstanding dolloped on top of a bowl of Greek yogurt for breakfast the next morning, and though not yet tested, I imagine pretty great pureed and used as a base for a holiday prosecco cocktail.

By Catie Schwalb

Yields approximately 2 ½ cups

12 oz (3 cups) Fresh Cranberries
2 Bosc Pears, very ripe, peeled and finely diced
1 ½ TBS Fresh Ginger, grated
¾ cup Water
3 TBS Light Brown Sugar
1 3” Cinnamon Stick
¼ tsp Ground Cardamom
¼ cup Honey

Combine cranberries, pear, ginger, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add the honey. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until the berries have collapsed and the pear had started to breakdown and dissolve.

Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and will also freeze well.
Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

The start of the holiday season in my home growing up was always marked by the arrival of a substantial pile of dogeared food magazines next to both sides of my parents' bed, as they hunted for recipe inspiration in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  That tradition has definitely lived on with me (and generally does so year-round), as well as the 2.0 version, in the form of a ever-growing file of bookmarked recipes on my computer.

As I start to put 2010's menu together, here are a few superstar Thanksgiving recipes that I return to again and again, from those treasured November issues.

Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut Gremolata.  A deeply flavored, incredibly rich, yet cream-less soup, that makes you sing the praises of all things mushroom.

Butternut Squash and Polenta Gratin.  A gorgeous, bright orange, creamy revelation.

Yeast-Raised Cornbread Rolls with Corn Kernels and Chives.  The perfect Thanksgiving breadbasket.  Would also make outstanding stuffing.

Duck-Fat Rubbed Roast Turkey.  Not only was this recipe developed by my favorite locavore chef, Bill Telepan, but it cooks in AN HOUR AND A HALF, for a 14 lb turkey.  Year after year it is the best turkey I've tasted, and I'll never use another method.  And the opening up of oven space and time is a gift from the gods.

Pear, Prosecco and Black Pepper Cocktail.  This complex, yet refreshing, holiday cocktail is totally unexpected, but not intimidatingly weird.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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