Thanksgiving Swap: Canned Cranberry Sauce

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it is time to begin making a meal plan, testing new recipes and completing my grocery list. I typically stick with a more traditional Thanksgiving menu: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, etc. But there is one common thanksgiving staple that I have never included and that is canned cranberry sauce. There was one year when I was a kid that one of my sisters friends joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and cranberry sauce was her one request. As far as I can remember she was the only one that ate it. Although I do enjoy other forms of cranberry (craisins, cranberry juice and jam), I have never considered adding it to my thanksgiving meal until now. Rather than going with canned cranberry sauce, I wanted to try and make my own from scratch, and also find other ways to incorporate cranberries into my dishes as well.

Lets begin with making cranberry sauce from scratch; I first turned to Pinterest and google to look for a simple and delicious recipe to try but I was only coming across recipes for jam or jelly. Now, I am not at all sure what the difference between those two and cranberry sauce is but for the sake of this challenge I had set for myself I wanted to make a sauce, whatever that really means. Luckily, when I bought a bag of Bluewater Farms brand cranberries from my local grocery store there was a recipe for cranberry sauce on the back. It seemed simple enough so I figured I would give it a shot and it turned out to be a success! Any time I attempt a new recipe I always stick to the exact ingredients and measurements, then, the next time I can make any changes I think it may need. This sauce was a little more sweet than I would have preferred so I plan to cut back on the sugar just a bit the next time I make this.

To begin, I added the water and sugar to a medium size pot over medium heat until it began to boil. After 5 minutes at a rolling boil I added the cranberries and stirred well. I continued to let the cranberries and sugar water mixture boil until the cranberries began to pop and breakdown (about 5 minutes) once it began to thicken and everything seemed to be broken down and blended I removed the pot from the stove and allowed it to cool before transferring to a jar. Pretty simple right? I already had sugar on hand so the only thing I had to buy to make cranberry sauce from scratch was the cranberries themselves, which were not expensive at all, and this time of year they are easily located in the produce section of the grocery store. If you would like to make your own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving this year I would suggest making it a day or two ahead of time just so it is one less thing you have to do the day of.

Now that I had the cranberry sauce made I needed to find ways to use it or incorporate it into a dish. I have this one flat bread recipe I like to make that calls for ricotta and feta cheese as well as shallots and blueberries so I decided to swap out the blueberries and instead use the cranberry sauce. It was pretty good but, because the original recipe calls for sautéing the shallots with honey I did need to adjust the sweetness a bit. To do that I sautéed the shallots with only a bit of olive oil and a dash of red pepper flakes until they began to turn translucent. Eliminating the honey helped this dish avoid tasting more like a dessert and I was able to serve it as an appetizer.

Cranberry Flatbread

  • 1 Naan Flatbread
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/3 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Cranberry Sauce
  • Fresh Rosemary for Garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the naan flatbread on top. In a small bowl mix together the ricotta and feta cheeses and spread evenly over the naan. In a small saucepan over medium low heat add the olive oil, shallot, salt and red pepper flakes and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Spread the shallots oven the cheese mixture and then top with cranberry sauce. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has softened. Sprinkle fresh rosemary on top, slice and serve.

Other ways to enjoy cranberry sauce:

Typically, you will see people pairing their cranberry sauce with turkey or spreading it on their dinner rolls but there are other ways you can make cranberry sauce stand out on its own. It would also pair nicely with brie. Try spreading brie on a cracker and topping with cranberry sauce. If you really enjoy sweet and savory combinations you could also add some prosciutto as well. Or, if you are really feeling ambitious you could make baked brie. I have only ever had this at restaurants but it is really great and I am sure it would not be too difficult to make. This baked brie recipe from Food Network sounds like it would be pretty easy.

If you try to make cranberry sauce from scratch and you still are not a fan try using craisins in a dish. I have found that I love adding them to my salads. I just use a bag of spring mix, feta cheese, walnuts, craisins and a vinaigrette dressing. This makes for a quick yet tasty side salad to serve along side the rest of your Thanksgiving meal.

Is cranberry sauce a staple among your Thanksgiving dishes? If so leave a comment below and let us know how you and your family like to enjoy it during the holidays.

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