Monday, 15 October 2012

Jaggery Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Jaggery Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

I promise this will be the last of my post Thanksgiving posts.  After this I’ll get right back to the flavours I adore, and plenty of chilies too.  Meanwhile, I’m here to write about traditional North American cranberry sauce. 
There are people who actually love canned cranberry sauce, so much so that they insist on opening both ends of the can to manoeuvre the jell out in such a way that the red cylinder wobbling in the serving dish must show the impression of the can it came from, ridges, seams and all.  If so much as a molecule tears away to disturb the look of “just out of the can”, the sauce is pitched out, and another can is opened, till the perfect red jellied “can” wobbles on a dish.  Other more sophisticated types use a spoon to mound the jell so it looks homemade, almost.  You can buy the sauce as a clear jell, or as a clear jell with the odd cranberry floating in it.

Serve it any way, and it will always taste like canned cranberry sauce.  Bland and cloyingly sweet.  Homemade is so much better.  Years ago I used to make a spiced sauce with cloves and cinnamon, but never did like the combo of those spices with the cranberries.  When I discovered this recipe involving citrus, I fell madly in love.
Making it the afternoon of the big dinner scents the house beautifully, puts you in a good mood because of its jewel-like beauty, and it tastes fresh, lively and tart.  It’s the easiest dish you will make at Thanksgiving, so give it a try.

3 cups fresh cranberries (I used two small bags and a cup of jaggery)
1 large orange
cold water to almost cover the cranberries
½ to ¾ cup jaggery

In a large bowl, soak the cranberries.  You have to pick through them carefully, as some will be spoiled.  The spoilers might float, but not necessarily, so this is the most time consuming part of this dish.  Put the clean cranberries into a colander, and give them a good rinse.
With the cranberries in a saucepan, add the zest from the orange.  I have an orange zester, so I just hold it above the saucepan and scrape away.  If you don’t have a zester, you could use a fine grater.  Or try a potato peeler, but then you’ll have to slice the peels into threads.  Don’t include the white pith of the peel, just the bright orange layer. 

Cut the orange in half, and juice it, adding the juice to the cranberries.  Start with the smaller amount of jaggery.  You can always add more if it’s too tart. 
Add enough cold water to cover the bottom layer of cranberries, and turn the heat on to high.  In a few minutes the cranberries will be boiling.  Turn the heat down to medium, stirring occasionally, and let cook for about ten minutes. 
The kitchen will become fragrant, and the whole house will smell welcoming and fabulous.  When most of the cranberries have popped, taste for sweetness.  Add jaggery as needed.  The heat and moisture of the sauce will dissolve it soon enough. 
Let the sauce cool a bit, then pour into a pretty serving dish.
Every year this is the first dish  to grace my table.  Back 'in the day', I’d go through tons of leftover cranberry sauce on turkey sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner following Thanksgiving, but sigh, I have a lot of leftover sauce this year.  I will freeze it.  It goes beautifully with roast chicken too.  Thank heavens for company, so I can at least experience the creation and fragrances of these dishes!  

Maybe you’d like to come to dinner?

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