Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Thanksgiving Table: Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Pecans

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without some form of cranberry sauce.  This version is one I have been making for years.  It, in no way, resembles the canned version.  It is chock-full of whole cranberries, chunks of apple, and pecans.  It is tart and sweet with a hint of citrus, and it goes well with turkey, ham, or even casseroles that contain stuffing.  The best thing about it is that it takes about 20 minutes start to finish and can be made several days ahead of the big meal.

Even though I am calling this cranberry sauce, it is very chunky and can be used in a variety of ways after Thanksgiving passes.  If you have extra, try it heated slightly and spooned over vanilla ice cream.  It is also great spooned into store-bought puff pastry as a quick and easy turnover (preferably to be served with ice cream also).  In my family, we love pecans, so I add a little more nuts than the average person may want.  If you want just a few, go with 1/2 cup.  If you are good with a reasonable amount, go with 3/4 cup.  If you are like me and can eat pecans in anything and everything and never have enough, go with 1 cup.  Your choice.  Either way, it will be delicious.

One more thing, I have tried making this with cranberries I had frozen for several months, and it came out a little thinner than usual.  I don't know the science behind it all, but it seems fresh, unfrozen berries are best, so try that for best results.

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Pecans- adapted from Ina Garten
makes enough to fill a 1 quart dish

If using a red apple in the sauce, do not peel. If using a lighter colored apple, peel for a prettier sauce.

1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, picked over and bad berries removed
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tart apple (I use Arkansas Black but Granny Smith work also)
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup water

Cook cranberries, sugar, and water in a skillet or saucepan on medium low for 5-10 minutes until the berries begin to soften and pop.  Add the apple, zests and juices and cook 15 minutes or so more until the apple is tender.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the toasted nuts.  Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely.  It will look thin at first, but it will thicken nicely as it cools.  Chill the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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