Cranberry and turkey. How classic. How traditional. How expected. How not what I wanted.
I love the idea of a cool, tart cranberry compote (or sauce) to go along with the turkey but I find many versions too sweet or too odd (I’ve seen one with marshmallows!). I feel that a good, tart sauce should cut through the heavier flavors that are piled on the plate. Traditional cranberry sauces just don’t do it.
As I looked around for recipes, a friend finally found this one from Bon Appetite. This implementation veered from the standard by adding pears, cardamom and five-spice. I instantly liked where the authors were trying to take this. This would allow it to be a tarter, more bitter, and unusually spiced, almost closer in spirit to an Indian chutney than to the sticky, sweet sauce usually found on most American’s Thanksgiving dining tables. I knew that not everyone would like the changes, but I didn’t care (arn’t I just the rebel~). This was my small protest hidden among the contrite condensed soup casseroles.
I eventually made a few changes from the Bon Appétit version to increase the tartness and boost the flavors.
No matter how hard I tried, I could not get this to look good on camera. It just looked like a red, slightly chunky mess, which I suppose is accurate, but doesn’t look appetizing when shot and put on a webpage alone. So no pictures. You’ll have to take my word that this was really good. Different. But good.
Spiced Cranberry Compote, with Pears
Altered slightly from Bon Appétit, Nov 1998
2 cups frozen cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 cups chopped, peeled Bartlett pears (1/3-inch pieces)
1 12-ounce package cranberries
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1. In a large sauce pan, combine cranberry juice concentrate and sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring over medium-high heat until dissolved.
2. Add the pears, cranberries, cardamom, and five-spice. Reduce heat to a simmer and stirr occasionally until reduced slightly and cranberries burst (about 10 minutes).
3. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until read to serve.
Oh, this is awesome over vanilla ice cream as well.