Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce with Persimmons

I live in a house divided.  My husband and I have fought over one issue every Thanksgiving since I can remember.  And we probably will until our very last.  What could possibly cause two happily married people to argue so vehemently?  Wait for it........Cranberry sauce!  I know we're not alone here, folks.  The debate between how cranberry sauce is served has been cause for family feuds all over America ever since Ocean Spray put it in a can.  It amazes me how passionate someone can be over a jiggly gelled "sauce" that retains the shape of the container it came from (although the lines from the can are convenient for portioning).  Nevertheless, my husband is one of them.  And no matter how many wonderful variations of a whole berry sauce I make (year after year after year), he just won't budge from his stance.  It's the can or nothing for him.  Sigh.
I have a recipe for a whole berry cranberry sauce that I've been making for a few years now that I really like.  It's made with spiced apple cider and a bit of orange juice and zest.  It's simple and delicious.  However, anybody who knows me will tell you that I'm not the type of person who will make exactly the same Thanksgiving dinner year after year just for the sake of tradition.  A few things will never be taken off the menu (my mom's sweet potatoes and apple pie, my mother-in-law's wild rice casserole) for fear of the mutiny that may result.  But the rest I don't mind playing with.  In fact I look forward to it every year.  So this year I'm taking on cranberry sauce.
This particular one pays homage to my new California homestead.  It's a bit exotic with the addition of star anise and persimmons.  I kind of like that.  The humble cranberry is getting all jazzed up for it's big night out.  In one bite you can everything you could ask for in a mouthful- tart berries, sweet persimmons, a lingering spice from the star anise, and the crunch of the almost raw persimmons that marries perfectly with the jam-like cranberries.  Plus, it's so darn pretty.  I may have found my new sauce (at least for the couple of years I'll be living here in California).  Of course, I'll be the only one eating it.  But that just means more for me!!
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce with Persimmons
Slightly adapted from Gourmet magazine via the Epicurious website

I like this sauce just the way it is, but I think just a bit of orange zest would send it over the top.  Next time I make it, you can be sure I'll be trying it with the zest.

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (1 bag)
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tbs water
1/2 cup sugar (to start, you can add up to 1/4 cup more at the end to suit your taste)
1/2 of a piece of star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 ripe but firm Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped into a 1/4 inch dice

In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients except the persimmons.  Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until the cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally.  Add the persimmons to the saucepan and, stirring, cook for another 2 minutes.  The cranberries should have burst open and the sauce will be nice and thick.  Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick. 

Taste the cranberry sauce for sweetness.  If the sauce is too tart, add sugar in one tablespoon increments until it suits your taste.  I stuck with the original 1/2 cup, but after eating it later in the day I think I should have added another tablespoon of sugar.  Refrigerate until it is time to set the Thanksgiving table!

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