If you like hot and spicy foods, this writeup is for you! Unlike most cranberry sauces, this one is quite likely to clear your sinuses. Enjoy.
This sauce has the approximate consistency of a thick salsa, perhaps a little thicker. It is a wonderful condiment for poultry or pork, and it should go well with game as well. I’ve served it alongside turkey potpie and as a salsa in turkey tacos. It would probably be fine used as a dipping salsa for tortilla chips, too, though I haven’t tried that. A friend to whom I gave this recipe said it went wonderfully with deep fried turkey, and I’m sure the same goes for fried chicken. Since this sauce is a bit different from the standard fare, it provides welcome variety when you’re down to cleaning up those post-holiday leftovers!
- 1 cup pomegranate juice, homemade or store bought
- 1 cup turbinado sugar, a.k.a. demerara sugar
You can substitute white sugar but I feel the molasses in the turbinado sugar lends another layer of flavor. In addition, I’m one of those people who despises refined sugar and avoids it whenever possible.
- a 12 ounce sack of cranberries, fresh or frozen; if frozen, do not thaw them before using
Rinse them well and get rid of anything you would not care to eat. Fresh cranberries, if they are good, will float. But there’s another test that is more fun: They will also bounce if good. To be honest, if I’m using frozen berries, I usually just dump them in after a brief search and without a rinse. I look at the fresh ones much more closely because a few might have gone bad.
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 to 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, both the white and green parts
What I mean by a scallion is the vegetable shown in the topmost picture on this webpage: http://www.foodsubs.com/Onionsgreen.html (That is a very useful website, by the way!)
- 1 to 2 fresh hot peppers, trimmed and minced
WARNING! When you work with hot peppers, be careful. If you have never tried it before, you might want to wear a clean pair of rubber gloves while you work with them. Some of the hottest can literally burn your skin. Whatever you do, if you’ve worked with hot peppers, wash your hands very well before you touch your eyes or any… intimate parts. You have been warned!
I buy whatever looks freshest when I’m shopping: Habañero, Fresno, cherry hot, Serrano, long hot, etc. I clear out the seeds and membranes to cut the heat a little (the next ingredient will make up for it) but you can leave them in if you wish. Or add even more peppers, if you wish. The effect I prefer is one that nibbles but doesn’t actually haul you off the ground and thwack you to kingdom come. Then again, my personal definition of nibbling may be different from yours, so beware.
- a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce; see below
- a loose handful of fresh cilantro stems and leaves, chopped fine
If you are one of the people who has the I hate cilantro gene –- yes, it’s genetic, though I don't know the technical term for it -– you can substitute fresh parsley, oregano, and/or marjoram. Whatever you do, don’t use dried cilantro leaf because it’s just not the same.
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of cumin, a.k.a. comino
If you can find whole cumin, by all means toast it briskly in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat just until you can smell it, then get it out of the pan and crush or grind it. If you can’t find it, the pre-ground stuff will suffice.
- The chipotles in adobo sauce: After you crack the can open, take a sniff and you will understand what I mean when I say to use caution. What you want is 2, or more if you dare, of the peppers. I suggest starting with no more than two. Do not rinse them! What is left of the stem areas on the peppers are slightly tough, so cut them off. Finely chop the peppers. Add some of the adobo sauce to the works, if you dare –- I usually add a tablespoon or so. Refrigerate the remaining peppers and adobo sauce in a non reactive container (I use a small Pyrex bowl with fitting rubber or whatever lid.) This stuff keeps just about forever, but use your head.
- Put the pomegranate juice and sugar into a saucepan (ideally one heavily constructed) and turn your burner to medium heat. No, don’t stir.
- Once it comes to a boil, add in the cranberries and let it come back to a gentle boil – not a furious one. No, don’t stir!
- Let the cranberries boil for 10 minutes. No… seriously… Don’t stir! Don't be surprised if you hear soft popping sounds; that's the berries bursting.
- Pour the mix into your dish or bowl. Now you get to stir! Gently stir in all remaining ingredients. You might want to wipe down the sides with a damp paper towel to help avoid gook accumulation.
- The original recipe says to place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce to prevent formation of a skin, but honestly, I’ve never seen one form. Your mileage may vary.
- Let the sauce cool down at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate it. It makes about 2.5 cups.
- Slightly reduce (boil down) the pomegranate juice if you want to intensify the flavor. That way lies Grenadine syrup, but don’t go all the way! Maintain the volume of the final product.
- If you are STILL a glutton for punishment and want yet another layer of flavor, you could always add in a dried guajillo chile pod or two, tops removed, seeds shaken out, and chopped fine or ground in a dedicated spice grinder. So far, I haven’t bothered, though it would probably be beneficial. If you have watched Alton Brown’s show on chiles, you know that mixing fresh peppers with all their ribs and seeds etc, fresh peppers minus those, and dried peppers makes for a much fuller taste. If you haven’t watched it, then you should! Anyway, I put in the canned chipotles because that adobo sauce just rocks.
- It has occurred to me to soak the peppers (fresh and canned) in a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil, in order to try to pull out some more of the essential oils. I haven’t tried it yet, though.
Source and acknowledgement
- This recipe was adapted from one named “Tex Mex Cranberry Salsa” taken from the back of a package of Ocean Spray cranberries. The ingredients have changed, but the method is the same as in the original recipe, which is on Ocean Spray’s website at http://www.oceanspray.com/recipes/recipes/sauces/texmexcranberrysalsa.asp
- Thanks to yclept, a) for helpful proofing and b) because when I read yclept’s recipe for cranberry sauce, I was reminded to mention inspecting the cranberries.
Enjoy, and Namaste!