I would hazard a guess that the cranberries on the Thanksgiving table are one of the more polarizing dishes. You can’t have Thanksgiving without cranberries, but the divide between sweet and savory, jellied or chunky, canned or homemade is probably the source of mnay under-the-breath comments and drive-to-grandma’s complaints.
I have never been a fan of the cranberry sauce from a can – we have never had it. But I know some people are absolutely devoted to it. The round, ridged shape, the squoosh it makes when it slides out of the can. It’s more about memories and tradition than taste for most, and that’s okay, because in truth, a lot of the Thanksgiving ritual is about just that.
Personally, I like a sweet, slightly chunky cranberry sauce – I’ll call it more of a compote than a sauce. And since I host and cook Thanksgiving, I get to choose. Ginger is a lovely, warming spice that pairs with cranberries beautifully and will also complement the other dishes on your table. Layers of ginger flavor from ginger ale, fresh ginger and ginger preserve make this a special standout.
Use a good, real ginger ale or ginger beer for this – one that has actual ginger as an ingredient and is not just flavored corn syrup. Luckily, at many markets you can find single bottles of good ginger ale like Blenheim or Reed’s. You will find ginger preserve at upscale markets, or well-stocked markets with the “fancy” jams and jellies. I find it regularly at my supermarket. The amount of sugar you use will depend on the sweetness of your preserve and ginger ale, so taste both and add as you like. You can add more sugar toward the end of the cooking time if need be. And of course, this is great spread on a leftover turkey sandwich.
Cranberry Ginger Compote
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
12 ounces real ginger ales or ginger beer
½ cup ginger preserve
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
5 Tablespoons (more or less) sugar
Place the cranberries and ginger ale in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir in the preserve, grated ginger and sugar until the preserve and sugar have melted. Cook the cranberry compote, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst and the mixture has thickened and reduced, about 15 – 20 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days.
Makes about 2 cups