Just last week a friend who I have known since I was 8 posted on FB her opinion that nothing beats canned cranberry sauce. I was tempted to de-friend her right then and there. (Haha….Just kidding Jess. Kinda.) She obviously hasn’t had my cranberry chutney. If you are like my friend and have a bond with canned cranberry sauce I ask that you spend 15 minutes (that’s all it takes) this year (or next) and make your own cranberry sauce. I may be wrong, but I think once you go homemade you will never go back.
This recipe hails from my early years in the kitchen (when I hardly knew what I was doing). So it’s super easy. The first ever Christmas meal I prepared was not for my own family. It was for a French family in St Lucia when I was 23 years old. Fake It Till You Make it was my motto back then. At that time I had already been cooking for a year and a half but mostly for American clients. My people. Now I had the pressure of preparing not only my first Christmas dinner but preparing it for a Parisian family who had spent a small fortune in order to celebrate Christmas in the Caribbean. No pressure.
I buried my nose in books and magazines (where was Google back then??), frantically trying to learn what the French dined on for Christmas. Things I had either never heard of or that sounded too fancy to be real kept popping up. Foie Gras, Escargots, 13 desserts, Chapon, Guinea Fowl, Pheasant……After a year and a half of cooking I was still nervous grilling steaks to temperature. I was not about to tackle my first pheasant on Christmas Eve. Fortunately for me, capons (chapon) and pheasants aren’t too easy to come by in the Caribbean. The closest thing to a guinea fowl I could find was a $150 imported Butterball turkey from the US. I had never roasted a turkey before either but I figured the skills must run deep in my Yankee blood. Turkey would have to do.
Turns out, foie gras and escargots weren’t easy to find that year either in the Caribbean. So, in the end, our French clients ate an American-style Thanksgiving dinner on Christmas in the Caribbean. And they loved it. When in Rome…..There weren’t 13 desserts on the table and neither was there a Buche de Noel or escargots but there was stuffing and cranberry sauce. It was the first time I had prepared such a feast and the first time I had made cranberry sauce. Almost 20 years later I am still making the same cranberry sauce that I prepared one Christmas Eve in St Lucia. Since then my turkey has much improved and my sides have changed. But when you find a good, simple recipe there is no need for change. I love this chutney because it is a perfect balance of tart, sweet and a bit spicy.
Christmas Eve 2000 was probably the first and the last time that the Comtois family ate cranberry sauce but the recipe has stayed with me for two decades. And now I am going to share it with Jess and you….enjoy!
- 1½ cups sugar (300g)
- ¾ cup(180ml) apple cider or apple juice
- ⅓ cup (80ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 12 oz bag (340g) of fresh cranberries
- 1 large pear , cored, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) chopped fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Place the sugar, juice and vinegar in a medium size saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cranberries, pear and ginger and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes