Category Archives: Cranberry

Tarting up cranberries.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

With all due respect to my Mom’s version of Gram’s stuffing, Auntie’s Rum Chiffon pie and Aunt Jane’s coffeecake, it was Aunt Ali’s cranberry mold that made Thanksgiving dinner exceptional.

The meal, shared at a table that eventually held more than 30 Forgiel aunts, uncles and cousins, along with Auntie and Gram, was certainly delicious. Gram’s stuffing was flavored with giblets and onion, the squash was fresh, the peas and pearl onions frozen, and the potatoes light, full of butter and cream. But even the best Thanksgiving meal can be brought down by a table whose celebration of cranberries extends no further than a can of jelly.

Aunt Ali, my godmother, chopped fresh cranberries, mixed them with earthy walnuts and suspended them in gelatin, set in a Bundt pan mold. The result was tart-sweet and fresh, a welcome break from the rich vegetables, starches and gravy-slathered turkey that crowded the other 95% of our heaped plates.

Every year I celebrate cranberries, sometimes cooked with port and orange zest, other years bright with baking spices, and last year with rich pork belly. This year, however, I was inspired by Renee Shields-Farr at Sapore Oil and Vinegar, who asked, “have you ever tasted a pink peppercorn?” I hadn’t.

Biting in, I first tasted a mix of pear and berries that was reminiscent of sugary breakfast cereal. Then came the peppery bite. So pears and berries it was. I added jelly, rather than pure sugar, to sweeten, and rosemary for balance and depth. It’s different, and it’s good.

As for the can of jelly, I’m sure it will still grace the table for Uncle John and my brother Alec. Thanksgiving, after all, is first and foremost a meal of family traditions.

Cranberry Pear Pink Peppercorn Compote

Makes about 2 cups compote

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz, about 3 cups cranberries
  • 2 large Bosc pears cut in a 1/2” dice
  • 1 cup tart jam like red currant or beach plum*
  • 1 cup apple or pear cider
  • 2 tbs chopped rosemary, separated
  • 1 tbs pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Lemon juice

*My favorite is Sapore’s Cranberry Port jam. If all you have at home is strawberry or raspberry, add a splash of port and a little extra lemon juice to balance the simple sweetness.

Directions:

  • Combine cranberries, pears, Cranberry Port jam and cider in a 2 quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cook for 5 minutes until cranberry begin to pop and release liquid.
  • Stir 1 tbs rosemary and pink peppercorns into the saucepan of fruit. Leave uncovered and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes until thickened.
  • Stir in remaining tablespoon of chopped rosemary and season to taste with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  • If the compote is tarter than you’d like, add 1-2 tbs sugar or honey.

Carpinelli’s Cippolinis

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Some of the world’s best recipes were born of necessity. Like Beef Wellington. I mean, what else do you do when there’s nothing in the fridge but puff pastry, mousse de foie gras and a a whole beef tenderloin?

This dish is just like that. Deep into the sometimes challenging fall produce season, I was staring  at a collection of cippolini onions, broccoli and a new Cranberry Port wine jam from Sapore Oil and Vinegar, that was just calling out for a bacon vinaigrette. A request for recommendations on my Facebook page produced a comment from ginger-haired Steve Carpinelli, and Carpinelli’s Cippolinis were born, dressed in a red cranberry port vinaigrette.

The dish balances mildly sharp cippolinis, sweet jam,  and salty/fatty bacon, all grounded by earthy broccoli. It’s colorful and fun, and offers a nice break to otherwise hearty-rich fall meals.

Carpinelli’s Cippolini Cranberry Salad

For salad:

  • 2 cups cipolini onions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For dressing:

  • 1 thick slice bacon, diced
  • 2 tbs Arbequina Olive Oil*
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup Cranberry Port Jam*
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar*

*Arbequina is a mild, grassy, Spanish olive oil. Sherry vinegar is a slightly more acidic substitute for Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry. Red currant jam can be found in most grocery stores and used in place of the Cranberry Port.

Directions:

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch onions for 30-45 seconds. Shock in an ice bath, drain and peel.
  • Blanch broccoli florets in the same water until bright green and crisp tender, about 90 seconds. Chill in ice bath, drain and dry.
  • Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat. When cooked through, remove bacon, leaving fat in the pan.
  • Add Arbequina olive oil as needed to make 1/4 cup fat.. Add shallots and sauté until softened, 3-5 min.
  • Add Cranberry Port Jam and whisk until it “melts” into the fat.
  • Turn heat to medium-high, add sherry, cippolinis and cranberries. Cook 2 minutes while dressing reduces.
  • Season broccoli florets with salt and a splash of Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry Vinegar. Top with cippolinis and dressing and sprinkle with dried cranberries.

*Make it vegetarian. Leave out the bacon and start the dressing by sautéing the shallot in olive oil.

Pork is the answer.

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My husband Jason and my brother Alec are allies. Each the youngest of three, they speak a common language, one I’m not too sure I approve of. In addition to their inability to find humor in the harmless practical jokes I may have played on Alec when we were kids (maple syrup in the water bottle we used to comb our hair, for instance), they also prefer the canned, gelatinous abomination known as cranberry sauce over fresh, whole fruit.

I’m in no way a purest. My Aunt Ali’s cranberry, walnut mold is the sentimental favorite, but the foodie, hipster compotes I’ve been cooking down since my mid-twenties deliver equal satisfaction. Still, despite my best efforts, because of Jason and Alec, I am forced to open one solitary can in an otherwise farm fresh meal preparation. Until this year.

If there is one way to win over men with food, it’s a really fatty piece of pork. I promise, one mention of pork belly, and your father, brothers and uncles will gladly turn off the game and come running to the dining room table.

Pork belly took me a couple tries to get right. A lot of fat will render out, so don’t rush the initial searing. There are a couple inches at the end of the piece of pork belly that are almost entirely fat. Save those for later. Finally, when you sear the meat before serving, pat it dry and cook it over relatively low heat to prevent the fat and sugars from burning.

Braised in cranberry apple cider, the pork is flavorful and tender. Tart-sweet, orange-infused cranberry is the perfect foil for rich, fatty pork. This round goes to me. Now if I could only get them to eat beets…

Cider Braised Pork Belly

*Begin the pork two days ahead of time, letting it dry marinate overnight and braise for several hours the following day.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds pork belly
  • 1 tbs coarse salt
  • 2 tbs Spanish paprika
  • 1 tbs ground Aleppo pepper (or 1 tsp cayenne)
  • 1 tbs fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 tbs red miso paste
  • 2 cups cranberry-apple cider (or 1 cup apple cider and 1 cup cranberry juice)
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup Autumn Apple Vinegar*
  • 2 tbs maple sugar
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

*My seasonal favorite from Sapore Oil and Vinegar. You could substitute sherry vinegar.

Directions:

  • Mix together salt, Spanish paprika, hot pepper and black pepper. Rub pork belly with rub and refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours.
  • Warm a dutch oven over medium heat. Meanwhile rinse dry rub from pork belly and pat dry. Cut pork belly, the short way, into 1″ strips.
  • Sear pork belly on all sides, starting with the fat side down. The fat will produce some smoke so get ready to fan your alarm.
  • Pour off all but 2 tbs fat and sauté shallots until soft. Add miso and cook 1 minute longer. Add cider, sherry and vinegar to pan. Bring to a boil. Add pork belly, cover and simmer over low heat for 2.5 – 5 hours, until fork tender.*
  • Remove meat from braising liquid, pat dry. (Move onto next recipe or see the next step to serve separately.)
  • To serve the pork belly on its own, slice in serving size piece, and sauté over medium heat for 1 minute a side before serving. Be careful not to burn the fat.

*Braising the meat longer makes it more tender, but it was delicious at 2.5 hours. You can also braise it in the over at 200 degrees for 4-5 hours.

Cranberry Compote With Pork Belly

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cups fresh, whole cranberries
  • 1 cup maple or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup ruby Port
  • 1 tbs Orange Oil*
  • 1 1/2 pounds Cider Braised Pork Belly (recipe above)
  • 1 tbs Autumn Apple Vinegar

*You can substitute Sapore’s Orange infused oil with two 2″ pieces of orange zest.

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a 3 qt sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Add shallot and sauté until soft., 3-5 minutes. Add star anise and cranberries and sauté for 3 minutes longer.
  • Add sugar, cider, Port and orange oil. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until liquid reduces to a thick, jammy glaze.
  • Slice pork belly into 1/2” strips. Sauté over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes a side being careful not to burn the fat. Add Autumn Apple Vinegar and reduce, turning pork belly to coat.
  • Serve pork belly pieces over the compote.