November 18, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.

Cranberries: from sauce to main dish

Cranberries: from sauce to main dish
Cranberries: from sauce to main dish

It's about the beautiful red, tart berry today. It's cranberry season. The cranberry season is short ("crans" as I call them), so if you plan to use the berries as part of your Thanksgiving dinner or during the Christmas season, you might want to buy and freeze several bags while the prices are reasonable. This little bit of info comes from an article about crans that was in a Nov. 12, 1986 food column I have which says, "A 14 oz. bag of cranberries sells for about 86 cents." Don't we wish that price would apply to the cost today. Can you tell that my cran file is huge...info from 1986. However, today's recipes are more recent!

CRANBERRY CHICKEN

1/2 c. flour

1/4 t. pepper

6 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lbs.)

3 T. olive oil

1 c. water

1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries

Dash of nutmeg

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1 T. red wine vinegar, optional

Hot cooked rice for 6 servings, optional

In a shallow dish, combine flour and pepper; dredge chicken. In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown chicken in heated oil on both sides. Remove from heat and keep warm. In same skillet, combine water, crans, nutmeg and vinegar. Cook and stir until berries burst, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, until sugar is dissolved. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes or until chicken is tender, basting occasionally with sauce. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; spoon sauce over chicken. Serve over rice or serve rice on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

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CRANBERRY

SWEET-AND-SOUR PORK

1-8 3/4 oz. can unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained, save the juice

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. BBQ sauce (your favorite)

1 c. whole cranberry sauce, homemade or from a can

1-1/2 lbs., boneless, lean pork, cut in 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 t. pepper

1 medium green pepper, cut into strips (julienne-style)

When drained, set pineapple aside. Combine pineapple juice with cornstarch. Stir in BBQ sauce and crans; set aside. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, stir-fry pork, pepper and green pepper over medium-high heat for three minutes, or until meat is no longer pink, stirring constantly. Add pineapple; stir 2 minutes more. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat, until thickened, boil and stir for 2 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: I cut the pork in thin strips, about 1/2 by 2-inches to insure it's tender.

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FROZEN CRANBERRY BANANA SALAD

1 - 20 oz. can unsweetened pineapple tidbits, well drained, save juice

5 medium firm bananas, halved lengthwise and sliced a little bigger than 1-4-inch thick

1/2 c. sugar

1-16 oz. can whole berry cran sauce or 2 c. homemade whole berry cran sauce

1 - 12 oz. container frozen light whipped topping, thawed

1/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Put pineapple juice into a medium bowl; set pineapple aside. Add bananas to the juice. In a large bowl, combine sugar and cran sauce. Remove bananas, discard juice and add to cran mixture. Stir in pineapple, whipped topping and nuts. Turn into a 9x13-inch pan. Freeze until solid. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before cutting. Serve on a leaf of lettuce on individual salad plates. Garnish with sprig of mint and a cranberry if you wish. 

Makes 16 servings. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Note: This is a good salad to serve as part of your dinner as it can be covered and frozen for 2-3 days ahead of time.

+++++

This is a cran sauce to serve with turkey, chicken or pork, anytime.

SPICED CRANBERRY SAUCE

1-12 oz. pkg. of fresh or frozen crans

1-3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. water

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. allspice

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. ginger

1/8 t. cloves

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, until berries pop and mixture is thickened, 25-30 minutes. Cool. Transfer to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Makes 2 cups. Again, you can make this sauce and refrigerate a week or more ahead of time. A little note if you're using frozen berries to add to a salad or a baked item, chop crans while frozen as it becomes hard to chop once the crans are thawed. I use my little food processor to chop the berries.

TFD: We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. This is a little prayer that we say before our meal.

Lord, we thank you for the food before us. For family and friends beside us. For the love between us, and you're presence among us. Amen.

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