Published November 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
For standout sauce, we needed to do more than just fine-tune the sweet-tart classic.
Dressed-up cranberry sauces are disappointing. They usually incorporate just one more flavor note, and typically it’s sweet.
We wanted a sauce with the dimension, sharpness, and complexity of an Indian chutney.
We began by thinking of an aromatic element that would add the subtle savory quality to the sauce. We decided on shallot and ginger, which we softened in oil to draw out their flavor nuances and tone down their harsh edges. For an assertive fruit to pair with the cranberries, we chopped up tart Granny Smith apples. We opted for molasses-y brown sugar over granulated and simmered the combination in water and cider vinegar, which lent brightness and depth to the chutney.
To ensure our chutney had the fresh pop of the back-of-the-bag cranberry sauces, we simmered half of the cranberries with the other ingredients and then stirred in the rest for the final few minutes of cooking. This created a jamlike base dotted with soft but still intact berries that retained their zing. The textural contrast gave us the idea for one last tweak: We mixed some minced crystallized ginger into the chutney along with the cranberries at the end of cooking, adding a slight, pleasing chewiness.
We used this concept to create four more versions. In addition to sweet-tart flavors, they all had a bit of punch, a bit of slow-cooked savor, a bit of fresh zing—and a whole lot of complexity.list of recipes