cranberries

how to make cranberry chutney for Thanksgiving

We’ve all eaten that cranberry sauce out of a can, I’m guessing. You know the stuff. The solid gelatinous red stuff, the one with the indentations of the can on the side, the one that’s not quite real food and sort of hypnotizing in its falseness.

No need to eat that stuff again.

Make your own.

And by the way, the best use for cranberry chutney isn’t on the Thanksgiving table, where it’s pretty well forgotten in the midst of the spread of stuffings and mashed potatoes. It’s the next day, on cold turkey sandwiches. Whole-grain gluten-free bread. A layer of this chutney. Soft goat cheese. Turkey. Repeat.

Oh man, I’m getting hungry now.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon stick
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 cups cranberries (fresh are best but frozen are fine)

Making the chutney. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in the orange juice and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the juice comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves.

Add the cinnamon stick, apple, pear, nutmeg, and cranberries to the sugary orange juice. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer, stirring pretty frequently. (Remember that the sugar means you might burn the chutney. No good.) About 10 minutes in, the cranberries will start to pop and release their juices. (Call the kids over. This part’s cool.) Keep stirring, but a little less frequently now. About 30 minutes in, all the cranberries will have popped and the juiced started to reduce.

Turn off the heat. Add the orange zest. Stir it all together.

Pour the hot chutney into a large, wide bowl or sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool completely. Put it in an airtight container, ready for the big day.

Feeds 8.

Make ahead: You can make this three days before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate it and let the flavors develop even more fully before you serve it.

Feel like playing? You can add so many different touches to this chutney. It’s endlessly flexible. Try lime and lemon juice and zest along with the orange juice. Try Seville oranges or blood oranges, along with the navels. I love a little cardamom in here. How about quinces instead of apples and pears? I think the scrapings of a fresh vanilla bean would be delightful too. This is easy. Make it yours.