Do you want to turn a ho-hum Thanksgiving garnish into a show stopping side that you eat all year round? Follow me, friends. Dreamy spiced cranberry sauce with pears and pecans is right around the corner.
When we moved to Portugal and prepared for our first Friendsgiving, I wanted to include some traditional American foods for our mix of friends. I've been making a version of spiced cranberry sauce with pears and nuts for years at home, and planned to do the same here. You know what Portugal doesn't do? Portugal doesn't do cranberries. Not fresh. Not canned. Just juiced. And dried.
And so, this cranberry sauce-from-dried-cranberries was born. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and she mothered a good one here.
The chewy dried cranberries rehydrate in orange and cranberry juice and mix with the pectins in the pears and spices to create a dreamy, citrusy, warmly-spiced chutney. The crunch of the pecans complement the slightly chewy texture of the cranberries and the stewed sweetness of the pears.
It's a symphony of textures and flavors and exactly what your Thanksgiving feast needs. And your leftover turkey sandwiches. And your charcuterie tray (hello cranberry chutney over goat cheese). And your scones. And your ice cream. And probably your shrimp tacos.
You're right. Too far.
BUT EVERYTHING ELSE.
Happy holidays, cranberry fans! Our moment has arrived.
What you'll need to make this delicious homemade cranberry sauce:
- dried cranberries
- cranberry juice
- clementine zest and juice
- brown sugar
- ground ginger
- cinnamon sticks
- fresh pear
Full instructions and ingredient measurements for this simple recipe included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions on how to make cranberry sauce from dried cranberries:
To begin, combine dried cranberries, cranberry juice, zest and juice of 1 clementine, brown sugar, ground ginger, pinch of salt and 2 cinnamon sticks in a medium to large saucepan. Stir to combine the ingredients, then bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture simmer for 6-8 minutes to rehydrate the cranberries.
Next, add the diced pear. Continue to simmer the cranberry sauce until the pear is tender and cranberries are soft, but retain a little chewiness - about 6-8 more minutes.
Remove from heat. If you want a smooth sauce (or smoother sauce) you can use a food processor or mini-chopper to grind the cranberry mixture at this point. I've made it both ways, and prefer leaving the cranberry sauce in this rustic form. Stir in the chopped pecans. Taste and adjust seasoning.
This recipe presents some variables - how sweet are the cranberries? How tangy is the cranberry juice? How ripe is the pear? Given the variables, you may want to add an extra tablespoon of sugar, or a squeeze of orange juice, or an extra pinch of ginger. Follow your heart.
Transfer to a serving dish and cover tightly. Refrigerate until service. The liquid in the sauce will thicken as the sauce cools. Serve with a sprinkle of diced pecans and orange zest.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for this amazing cranberry sauce:
You can! Have the cranberry juice on standby, but you likely won't need it, as the fresh cranberries will burst as you cook them and produce their own juices. You will likely need at least twice as much brown sugar, since dried fruit has a higher sugar content than fresh. So start with a half cup sugar, then taste and adjust, as needed. Your holiday table will be just as impressed with the fresh cranberry sauce as the dried one.
Brown sugar adds a little bit of deep molasses flavor, which is the perfect compliment to the warm spices in this dish. But white sugar will add the sweetness you need to balance out the other flavors - if you have molasses or maple syrup in the pantry, add an extra drip or two to the pot.
A granny smith apple (or any apple in your refrigerator) will add some natural pectin and texture to the dish and balance the tartness of the cranberries.
Using a little additional orange / clementine fruit juice is a good option, or an equal amount of apple juice. I would not substitute the same amount of lemon juice - if you're looking for more tartness, add a teaspoon at a time.
To store leftover cranberry sauce, wrap tightly with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight covered container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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