At Heirloom Fire, we are always on the hunt for new ways to use seasonal ingredients. When we began discussing the unsung heroes of Thanksgiving dinner, cranberries came to mind.
We can trace the use of cranberries back to the Native Americans, who had many uses for the cranberry, and would eat them fresh, cooked, or preserved. Cranberries were brought on ships to help ward off scurvy, and today we eat them in muffins. They have been a part of Thanksgiving tradition for as long as anyone can remember. Cranberries today are harvested only from September through November. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. The fields are flooded at harvest time, so ripe berries float to the top, making them easier to harvest from the vine laden evergreen shrubs.
In Massachusetts today, our state berry is the cranberry, so it seemed only fitting that we did some dreaming, recipe testing, and yes, lots of eating, to give you these next two recipes.
We all know that when you first think of cranberry sauce, you don’t picture a sauce that is lovingly made and proudly brought to the table; You picture the can being opened just before dinner is served, hearing it’s loud plop as it drops into the bowl, still very much resembling the vessel from where it came. This first recipe is not that sauce. The cranberries are cooked gently in batches, with equal parts of honey and champagne vinegar. The berries are cooked until just before they burst, remaining whole, but have released some of their juices to mix with the honey making a
lovely sauce worthy of your table.
Honey Poached Cranberries
3/4 c. honey, divided
6 tbs. champagne vinegar, divided
16 oz. fresh cranberries
Working in batches, into a medium saucepan, add 1/4 c. honey and 2 tbs. champagne vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add just enough cranberries to cover the bottom of the pan in one layer only. Return pan to the stove and heat over medium low flame, stirring carefully from time to time. The cranberries should be plumped, but not burst. With a spoon, remove any burst berries from pan. After about 8 minutes, the cranberries should be soft and plump. Test the largest berry in the pan to make sure it is tender.
Transfer soft cranberries to a container. Repeat process until all ingredients are used, cleaning pan between batches.
Following the cranberry sauce, we wanted to rethink our use of cranberries in dessert. So dust off that unopened ice cream maker you bought two years ago, and whip up a batch of this winter Citrus and Cranberry Ice Cream. This of course would make a fabulous addition to any dessert table, but we would recommend using it in the last recipe found here in the blog.
Champagne + Honey Poached Cranberry Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
1 pint Champagne + Honey Poached cranberries, with syrup
First: Make sure your ice cream canister is in the freezer, if using that type of equipment.
Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture just to a simmer and remove from heat; allow to cool slightly. While milk mixture is coming to a simmer, whisk sugar and egg yolks together until light and fluffy. When milk has cooled slightly, slowly pour in ⅓ of the warm milk mixture while constantly whisking as to not scramble the eggs. Next, slowly incorporate the next ⅓ while, again, whisking constantly. Lastly, pour the tempered egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining ⅓ of the milk mixture. Bring custard mixture up over low head, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Slowly cook custard until it coats the back of the wooden spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl, stir in salt, vanilla and place bowl into the refrigerator until completely chilled.
Once the custard is chilled, process the mixture in an ice cream maker according the instructions. When ice cream is almost set, pour in the cranberries and churn until just mixed. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for about 4 hours.
Our third recipe is our Bubbly Berry Float, our boozy take on a childhood classic. At your next gathering, these are sure to have your f giggling like children on Christmas morning at your next holiday gathering.
Bubbly Berry Float
Makes 1 Float
4 oz (about two scoops) ice cream
1 oz orange liqueur
6oz Prosecco or Champagne
2 preserved cranberries ( see above recipe)
Place ice cream in the a tall glass of your choosing. Pour the orange liqueur over the ice cream, and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a skewer of Preserved Cranberries and an orange slice
For a non-alcoholic version, we would suggest using orange juice (no pulp) in place of the orange liqueur. A sparkling cranberry cider to replace the Prosecco makes a delicious replacement and beware, this might even be more delicious than the original recipe.