Don’t forget about the cranberries

Published 12:01am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tell a friend to name their top five ingredients for the holidays.

I bet you hear pecans, sweet potatoes, turkey or ham, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Then some will name dishes instead of ingredients and you will hear broccoli casserole, green bean casserole, homemade rolls, pies and cakes. And as the lists go on and on, the most underrated ingredient will continue to be a prop on most holiday food lists, the cranberry.

I’m not talking about that gelatinous mass that slides out of the can, which by the way I have to have to go with my dressing and leftover ham sandwiches. I’m talking about those bags of fresh ruby red cranberries stacked up in your grocery store.

First of all you should be stockpiling some of these in your freezer. They keep for a year and with any luck you will be able to make yourself spread them out over the year.

I take my cranberries out of the bag they come in and lay them out on a kitchen towel and go over them and remove any soft ones, then I drop them in Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer.

This recipe is very simple to pull together and yet it is full of flavor. The sugar is not so much that it makes a sweet sauce but rather it offsets the the tartness of the cranberries. I did this same sauce but swapped one cup of the broth for apple cider and served it over pork loin.

 

Chicken with cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 chicken breast halves, 8 ounces each

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the butter, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Rub evenly under the chicken skin. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, roast skin side up until the skin is golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the sage and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the mixture, return to the saucepan.

Add the cranberries and sugar and boil until the berries burst, about 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture, return to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 to 1 1/2. Remove from the heat (the sauce will thicken as it stands). Season with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the sauce over the chicken.

 

Christina Hall writes a food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.