cranberry bread to savory sauces for venison and other robust red meats, and even for adding to hot cereal as it cooks on the stove (when I do that I also add plenty of real maple syrup or honey to balance out the tartness of the berries).
My spiced cranberry sauce is a sweet and zesty substitute for the canned cranberry sauce that usually accompanies turkey -- but it is far too tasty (in my not-so-humble opinion) to be relegated solely to the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. Indeed, this sauce truly shines when paired with warm brie or any other rich, creamy cheese, even everyday cream cheese. It's also wonderful spooned over cheesecake, bread pudding, and even vanilla ice cream. Elegant enough for the holidays but simple enough for any day, I dare you to serve this delectable appetizer as part of your game-day spread this Sunday for the big game, or any time other than November and December. Trust me, your family or guests will not be disappointed!
1 12oz bag whole cranberries
1 cup verjus*
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs freshly grated orange zest
A whole or partial round of brie cheese
Crackers or baguette (or other similar bread) slices.
*Verjus is the unfermented tart juice pressed from unripe green or red grapes. You can use either in this recipe. It does not contain alcohol and can be used in place of vinegar in most recipes for a more "wine friendly" flavor, making it a favorite of chefs and cooks who like to serve wine with a meal. Verjus is less acidic than vinegar and is wonderful as a marinade or as the base for other sauces. You can buy verjus online, or substitute white wine vinegar or even ordinary distilled vinegar -- but you might want to add more sugar if the sauce seems too tart for your taste.
To serve with brie: If you've bought a whole round of brie (a young brie is best for this, not an aged runny brie), there should be instructions on the package for how to warm in your oven or microwave. If not, then place the round (or part of a round if that's what you have) on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes until warmed through and slightly runny when you cut into it. Although some people cut the top rind off the brie before warming, I leave it on -- it's edible, too. Place the warmed brie on a serving plate and spoon as much of the spiced cranberry sauce over it as you'd like. Serve with crackers or crusty bread slices.
PS: If you're like me and love the flavor of cranberries, be sure to try Toad Sweat Cranberry Dessert Hot Sauce, a sweet & spicy all-natural hot sauce you can use with everything from turkey or pork to creamy cheeses and desserts like cheesecake, ice cream & more. Another favorite is this savory-sweet and peppery-hot cranberry salsa, which you can enjoy just like any other salsa.