Recipe: Chardonnay Cran-Blueberry Sauce

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”  That’s what Thanksgiving is, in our family.  This is my most favorite holiday… the one dedicated to giving thanks for each and every blessing, for spending time with family and friends, and for sharing lots of wonderful food.  There’s no expectation of gifts or presents… it’s all about the presence

As we start this week of the Thanksgiving holiday, I start cooking in stages.  I’ve already cut up half of the bread for my holiday stuffing, made a loaf of “stuffing bread” (a simple italian bread recipe to which I add poultry seasonings and herbs) and will brown up the sage sausage that goes into my stuffing later this afternoon.  I’m making as many things ahead of time as I can, so that my holiday won’t be entirely spent in the kitchen and away from my family.  While I could just as easily have opened a can of cranberry sauce, this recipe is one that I started making last year and found it to be a wonderful addition to our holiday meal.  It’s my Chardonnay Cranberry Sauce.  Jelled and chilled (this recipe really does need to have time to sit in the fridge), this sauce can be used on sandwiches just as easily as it compliments a turkey dinner…. and it’s sooo much better than something out of a can!ChardonnayCranberrySauce

I start with a bag of cranberries and pour them into a saucepan. Remove a half cup of the cranberries and chop these fine and set aside for a bit.  This year I added a half cup of blueberries to the cranberries, just for a little variety and a touch of sweetness.  To the berry mixture, I added 1 cup sugar, 1 cup James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, some orange zest, a dash of nutmeg, a little salt and a bit of lemon juice.  I set the heat to medium and simmered the mixture until the berries popped and the sauce began to thicken.  I tend to get a bit impatient, waiting for the berries to all pop, so I like to use a potato masher to squish anything that hasn’t popped.

Once the sauce is nicely thickened, add in the reserved chopped cranberries and stir to combine.  You’re not heating these berry pieces through, so remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool before transferring it to a container and popping it into the fridge.  This can be made a few days ahead of time, but you’ll want to use this within a week (if it lasts that long) after the holiday.

Enjoy this yummy cranberry sauce… it’s become one of my favorite parts of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!

Recipe: Chardonnay Cranberry Sauce

I’ve been looking at cranberry sauce in a different light this year…  I used to make a simple cold relish-like cranberry mixture, but have found that I really like the thicker consistency of a cooked cranberry sauce instead.  It works better in a leftover sandwich and just tastes better to me.  I posted a sauce recipe that was blended with figs and cassis, but that just didn’t seem “clean” enough for me.  I wanted that true, tart cranberry taste on both the first bite as well as the finish so here, dear reader, is the result of that search.

Cranberry Sauce Collage

I started with my sister, Jessica’s, cranberry sauce recipe and deviated a bit.  Here are the directions to Jessica’s Cranberry Sauce:

Empty a 12-oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan and transfer 1/2 cup of said cranberries to a small bowl.  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest, and 2 Tablespoons of water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries.  Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.

I loved the idea of making a cooked cranberry sauce, but wasn’t so sure about having so many whole berries in the final product.  Apparently, when our mum made this for Jess, she stomped all the berries down and made jam instead of cranberry sauce, so I was warned to make this ahead of time.  We each have our preferences, so my version uses the following changes to Jessica’s basic Cranberry sauce recipe…

  • Grate half an orange instead of using a strip of zest – next time I’ll probably try grating the entire orange or grate half an orange and half a lemon.  The citrus taste is pretty darn yummy.
  • Replace the water with 2 Tablespoons of James River Cellars’ Reserve Chardonnay.  I think our stainless chardonnay would work well in this recipe as well, but I’m planning to use an entire bottle of the Reserve Chardonnay throughout my Christmas dinner, so you’ll see it pop up a few more times before the holiday meal is complete.
  • I lightly chopped the 1/2 cup of reserved berries (as seen in the center photo) so the uncooked berry pieces aren’t as huge.

I like the small changes I made to my sister’s fabulous cranberry sauce… they seem more in keeping with the way I cook and the final product is really tasty.  Feel free to experiment with flavors that you enjoy and come up with your own version of a new family favorite.

It’s really all about playing with your food…and using The Force to come up with something new… are you ready to try it?