Can’t resist popping the bubble wrap that comes tucked in all those holiday packages?
Then you’ll get a kick out of one of my favorite culinary equivalents: the snap, crackle and pop of whole, fresh cranberries as they burst from the heat in the pan.
Don’t go overboard, though. If you let the berries continue to cook too long after they pop, the sauce will turn bitter.
No doubt, cranberries are a revered holiday tradition. But there’s no reason not to slather the lovely red sauce on foods year-round, because the native American berry is bursting with nutrition.
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An excellent source of vitamin C, the berry reportedly kept the first New Englanders from scurvy. A very good source of dietary fiber and a good source of manganese and vitamin K, fresh cranberries also contain more antioxidants than dried.
Known as “bounceberries,” fresh cranberries actually should bounce when ripe.
The Star’s Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce contains sugar, water and either fresh or frozen berries. The simple recipe lets the berries do all the talking, but when you add a jalapeño (also high in vitamin C) your taste buds get a good jingle.
Shopping tip: Fresh, whole cranberries are widely available October through December in the produce department. Refrigerate fresh cranberries in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for a month. But freeze a few extra bags; cranberries keep frozen for up to a year. And it’s not necessary to defrost cranberries before using.
Make ahead tip: Prepare Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce the day before. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Serving tip: Serve the sauce as an accompaniment to roast turkey, ham or other holiday entree dinner. Other offbeat ideas from the November issue of Food Network magazine: Whisk cranberry sauce into a vinaigrette, stir into Champagne for a cranberry Kir Royale or spoon over store-bought cheesecake.
Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 green onion (white and green portions), minced
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in cranberries. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until cranberries are softened, many are split and juice is thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in jalapeño pepper and onion. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Per (1-tablespoon) serving: 38 calories (none from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 1 milligram sodium, trace dietary fiber.
This Week: Serve Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce with roast turkey.
Next week: Use Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce to make Cranberry Orange Mini-Muffins to serve as holiday hors d’oeuvres.
Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.