The Cranberry Hula

By Beacon Staff

Thanksgiving is coming and the folks at Ocean Spray are canning cranberry sauce like crazy because millions of people think that it just won’t be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce that has indentations from a tin can. It also comes out of the can in one tower that jiggles like a hula dancer.

May I convince you otherwise?

Those same folks at Ocean Spray (and maybe some other lesser-known brands) also offer 12-ounce packages (it seems to be an industry standard) of fresh cranberries. They’re really very easy to work with, which is the premise of my first convincing argument. After all, you’d rather serve something fresh rather than canned – wouldn’t you?

Here’s an interesting fact (it is not my second convincing argument) – cranberries are also known as bounceberries, because the ripe ones actually bounce. This would be very amusing for a 4-year-old in your family who could test every berry in the bag, but I fear your kitchen would never be the same.

Another great reason to use fresh cranberries is that they’ll keep for two months, tightly wrapped and refrigerated, or a year in the freezer. I stock up starting in October, because the season lasts only until early December. There always is at least one bag of frozen cranberries in my freezer because I find them to be quite versatile. Have I convinced you yet?

Making an interesting and very tasty cranberry sauce is pretty easy. Surely your family and guests deserve it, don’t you think?

I’m in favor of layering flavors and I start my cranberry sauce with caramelized onions. After all, cranberries are one of the sourest of fruits. Caramelized onions are sweet. To enhance the sweetness I use red onions.

To balance my flavors and add some additional sweetness, I also add brown sugar. To counteract any possible over-sweetening, I also add orange juice and balsamic vinegar. These add acid, but they also add enhanced color to the dish.

When cranberries are heated, they pop, so be prepared for that while you’re cooking them. And just make sure after everything has been added to the pan, that you let it simmer long enough so that the mixture thickens. Pour it into a bowl and let it sit at room temperature for a while until it cools down. Then cover it and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve at Thanksgiving dinner.

I promise you at least one memorable made-from-scratch element of your Thanksgiving dinner. And if you have any left over, it makes an excellent spread for the next day’s turkey sandwiches.

Here’s the recipe for Kitchen Guy’s Cranberry Sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium red onions, cut in quarters, then sliced very thin
1 bag of cranberries (12 ounces)
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until onions are dark brown and tender, stirring occasionally.

Increase the heat to medium high. Stir in the cranberries, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and a half cup of water and a half cup of orange juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered 12 to 15 minutes or until most of the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens slightly.

You can make the sauce thicker by adding a slurry of cornstarch and water.

Spoon the sauce into a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well-chilled.