The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce

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No this item isn’t grilled or smoked, but it is the perfect compliment to a grilled or smoked turkey or chicken. So much so that while I’ve had jellied cranberry sauce around the last two years, it has stayed in the fridge due to lack of interest. The recipe is easy to make, but their are a couple gotcha’s I need to tell you about along the way.
I first became aware of this recipe last year around Thanksgiving when a link was posted to it on a message board. The poster raved about it and it was an Alton Brown recipe which told me all I needed to know. The recipe was on the Food Network website and I was glad I did read the user comments posted below the recipe.


The recipe posted on the Food Network website was said to be way too much. The commenters typically cut it in half and this is the sized batch I make. Supposedly what I make serves 4-6, well 8-12 is more like it. I served 6 this year and still have half of my batch in the fridge. Fortunately it stores well and is good on lots of things besides turkey.


The ingredients are simple as is the prep. The only item requiring more than measurement is the orange which gets zested.



It took around an hour to reduce the sauce down to half of it’s original volume.

The recipe uses FROZEN cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, ginger ale, maple syrup, light brown sugar and kosher salt. These are combined in a sauce pan and brought to a boil. Then the heat is reduced down to a simmer. You simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the mixtures volume is reduced by 1/2. When I reduce something like this, I always seem to find the reduction time takes longer than the recipe calls for. In this case it takes me 45 minutes to typically an hour.


The recipe specifically called for frozen cranberries. Living in Massachusetts, one of the largest cranberry producers, I figured this would be no problem. Wrong. I don’t know if it is because it is so easy for us to get fresh cranberries or what, but frozen cranberries are next to impossible to find. A friend who is a baker solved the problem nicely. Buy a fresh 1 pound bag of strawberries and put the bag in the freezer for 6 hours and you are good to go.


The sauce has just finished being pureed with a stick blender.

After the mixture has reduced the next step is to use a regular blender or an immersion (stick) blender to puree the mixture. Then you let it cool and either serve it or place it in the refrigerator. That sounds simple doesn’t it? Well read the 3rd sidebar.....


The first time I made this, I’d read the comments on the website regarding the need to hold the lid of the blender down securely. I did hold the lid down more securely than normal and I had the lid blown off right past my hands to the ceiling. There was sauce everywhere and my hand was a bit burned. Fortunately the recipe makes a lot, so I still had enough to serve. The second time I made this sauce, despite holding on even tighter, the lid still popped slightly off the top of the blender. This time there was little mess to clean up. Somehow there is a build up of gas of some sort, that gets released when you start blending. I’m guessing it may be warm air trapped inside the cranberries, that expands when it is released. But that is just a guess. Whatever the cause, be sure to hang out to the lid extra extra tight. Or use a stick blender.


The finished sauce gets served in ramekins.

This year I had a stick blender and wanted to see if this eliminated the pyrotechnics. Since my stick blender has a metal base and my pans are non stick, I poured the finished sauce into a medium sized, stainless steel bowl for blending. Be sure to use a non-reactive bowl either glass or stainless steel. The blending went uneventfully with the stick blender. It actually took less time than it did with the full sized blender and there were no surprises.


This is an excellent, easy to make side dish. So far I haven’t had anyone try it that doesn’t absolutely love it. You can make it ahead of time or use it right after it has cooled down a bit. I’ve noticed no difference in flavors between the two. If I refrigerated the sauce, I usually pour out a big enough batch for my use and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. If you pour it into the individual ramekins it will come to room temperature even faster. It is a great substitute and change of pace from jellied cranberry sauce. It was so good that people weren’t just dipping their turkey in it. Folks were dipping their bread in it. My mother used the leftover sauce I sent home with her on her toast. At the table this day, my mother actually drank her remaining sauce. Yes it is that good.

Recipe Link



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