Cranberry sauce with a kick

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Growing up, my family didn’t have cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving — everything else, just never cranberry sauce. In fact, my first taste of “the sauce” was in the school cafeteria my first year in college. I didn’t care for the sweet fruit with my turkey and pretty much wrote off cranberry sauce as a condiment (now cranberry jello, that’s a different story) until my friend Joyce shared some of her homemade sauce with us a few years ago. The addition of vinegar, wine and spices made it a complex and delicious compote, similar to chutney. This is even better when paired with grilled wild salmon or pork (chops, roast, you name it).

This cranberry relish/compote freezes well, so if you’re not equipped to properly can it, you can freeze small quantities for later enjoyment. Because fresh cranberries are not generally available year-round, I usually make several batches to freeze, and to share with family and friends.

The original recipe called for ground spices but I didn’t like the gritty feeling the ground spices left in the relish, so I’ve adapted the recipe to use whole spices in a bouquet garni bag that is easily removed at the end. To make a quick bouquet garni, put your spices and herbs is a large tea ball, or a No. 4 or 6 cone coffee filter tied with kitchen twine, or a disposable linen tea bag filter (availalble in Japanese groceries and fine tea shops).

A few other substitutions and adjustments have been made, but in our hearts, this will always be Joyce’s cranberry sauce.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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JOYCE’S CRANBERRY RELISH
Bouquet Garni:
1-1/2 TBL. whole black peppercorns
1 TBL. broken cinnamon pieces
3 whole allspice (a.k.a. Piment)
1 TBL. coriander seeds,
4 whole cloves
1 blade of mace
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1-1/2 tsp. crushed dried
2 small bay leaves
Place all spices and herbs in garni bag, then lightly crush with a rolling pin or flat side of a meat tenderizer. If using a metal tea ball, lightly crush whole spices before putting in ball.

1 medium onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 TBL minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBL oil

2/3 cup/ 160ml apple cider vinegar
1-1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup/ 160ml Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon

24oz/ 680g cranberries (about 2 bags), washed and picked over
4 medium firm pears, or 1 large nashi pear, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup/ 75g dried cherries or cranberries, optional *
1/2 cup/ 120ml real maple syrup, or 1/3 cup/ 80ml agave nectar

Fresh fruits added to the wine syrup baseFinished sauce will thicken more as it cools
If canning, sterilize 3 pint jars and keep hot until needed. Prepare lids per manufacturer’s directions.

In large stainless steel pan set over medium heat, saute onion, jalapenos, ginger and garlic until onion is translucent.
Add vinegar, brown sugar and bouquet garni. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves completely (about 10 minutes). Add wine and continue simmering until syrupy (about 10 minutes).
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Stir in cranberries, pears, dried fruit (if using), and maple syrup or agave nectar, bring to a boil, then simmer 15 minutes. Remove bouquet garni bag. Either can or prepare to freeze any quantities not to be used in 3-4 days.