We all have our food quirks. The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible. Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.
I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other. We were at an Asian restaurant. Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice. No sauce, not even soy. Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature. Phobias ain’t no joke. I’m the mixing queen. I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.
Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving sides that I use more like a chutney, as a burst of flavor atop a forkful of sweet potatoes, or along with a bite of green beans. It’s not Thanksgiving without cranberries, and this year I wanted to make a cranberry sauce with layers of spice and citrus, using healthier sweeteners.
Homemade cranberry sauce is one of the quickest, easiest sides. Typically, it’s made with white granulated sugar. In cases like these, I like to see if I can achieve the flavors I’m looking for using less-processed, lower-glycemic sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar. Coconut sugar has a deep, molasses-like flavor, and honey a brighter, lighter flavor which allows the cranberries to shine through. This recipe keeps the essence of traditional cranberry sauce, layered with hints of ginger, tangerine, and spices, and just a slight aftertaste of port.
Do you like to standardize and optimize each bite, or let foods mingle willy nilly like I do? Do you segregate your dinner plate, or bring a quirk to the table that is all your own? Cranberry-optimizers, mixers, and segregators are all welcome here! If this makes it to your Thanksgiving table, do stop back and let me know how you liked it!
Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 5 cups
- 24 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tangerine zest, plus additional for garnish if desired
- 1 cup fresh tangerine juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup ruby port
- 1 cup water
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup honey (substitute agave if vegan)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir often. When cranberries pop, continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes longer, smashing some of the cranberries against the side of the pan, until the sauce appears slightly thickened (it will continue to thicken more as it cools).
Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer before serving. Garnish with a small amount of zest if desired.