Grown in Pacific Northwest coastal bogs, cranberries are back in town for the holidays. They’re a local seasonal berry come to fruition just in time for Thanksgiving.
I stumbled upon a recipe for roasted cranberry sauce in Saveur magazine (11/08) and made a batch the other morning. I’ve never before had the urge, not even close, to sit down and devour an entire bowl of cranberry sauce, but it was tempting. Made with the basic ingredients plus a couple of surprising additions, it takes a few minutes longer than dumping everything into a saucepan for ten minutes, but it’s done in under half an hour and superb.
Roasted Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Makes about two cups. Preheat oven to 450º and line a large roasting pan with parchment paper.
Ingredients: 4 cups of fresh cranberries, the zest and juice of one orange (set 1 tablespoon aside for later), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup sugar, salt to taste, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 whole cloves, 4 cardamom seeds smashed, 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. FYI, I’ve made this sauce without cinnamon sticks because I didn’t have any at the time and used star anise instead, and with red pepper flakes instead of jalapeño. Innovate with a little more or less of an ingredient and your roasted cranberries should still be fine.
Directions: Using a carrot peeler, remove the peel from one orange, taking off as little of the bitter white pith as possible. Slice peel into very thin strips about 1½ inches in length and place in a large bowl with other ingredients. Mix everything together thoroughly, reserving 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Spread cranberry mixture out evenly on a parchment lined baking pan. Bake at 450º for 12 – 15 minutes, or until berries begin to brown and release their juice.
Lifting up opposite edges of parchment, carefully pour roasted cranberries into a large bowl while they’re still piping hot. Stir in remaining tablespoon of orange juice and 1½ tablespoons of Port. Yes Port. Wouldn’t Brandy be fine too? Or skip it altogether. Some awesome sauce. Better make a double batch.
The World’s Healthiest Foods: A cousin of the blueberry, this very tart, bright red berry can still be found growing wild as a shrub, but when cultivated, is grown on low trailing vines in great sandy bogs. The American cranberry, the variety most cultivated in the northern United States and southern Canada, produces a larger berry than the wild cranberry or the European variety.
Cranberries have long been valued for their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Now, recent studies suggest that this native American berry may also promote gastrointestinal and oral health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, lower LDL and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, aid in recovery from stroke, and even help prevent cancer.
Fresh cranberries, which contain the highest levels of beneficial nutrients, are at their peak from October through December, just in time to add their festive hue, tart tangy flavor and numerous health protective effects to your holiday meals. When cranberries’ short fresh season is past, rely on cranberry juice and dried or frozen cranberries to help make every day throughout the year a holiday from disease.