I’ve never been a cranberry sauce fan—and when you hail from near Cape Cod, this is practically a treasonous act. In fact, I think so little of it on Thanksgiving that I usually make no more than 1 1/2 cups of anything cranberry for our up-to-12 guests. Alas, The One is a cranberry freak. (Why is it that opposites attract in the most inconvenient places?) He pleaded with me to make this cranberry chutney, and make a lot of it. As I was deep sighing my way through the recipe, making sure to toss terribly martyred looks his way, something wonderful happened. I took a taste and liked it. Actually, not just liked it. Loved it. It’s the sweetness from the sugar and honey, the tartness from the cranberries and vinegar, and the heat from the mustard that makes it special. Diana Henry, the author of the recipe, says that it’s great with turkey sandwiches (not to mention ham and roast beef, too). All I have to say is this cranberry chutney—a double batch of it, to be precise—is making an appearance on our Thanksgiving table this year.–David Leite
☞ Table of Contents
LC All We Want for Christmas Is… Note
We know, we know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Still, we can’t help looking ahead and thinking that all we want for Christmas, after tasting this sweetly tart condiment, is jar after jar of it. That and ample leftover turkey and ham. As author Diana Henry notes, “Its selling point is that it’s both hot and sweet. It’s perfect at Christmas, when you’re making all those turkey and ham sandwiches and want cranberries with a kick.” And, she adds, “Don’t rule it out with cold rare roast beef, too.”
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2/3 cup apple juice or orange juice or more as needed
- 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
- 1 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard or more to taste
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Place the dried cranberries in a saucepan and add enough apple juice or orange juice to cover the tart little roly-polies. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let plump for 30 minutes.
- Place the fresh or frozen cranberries and cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst, 2 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar and honey and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and mustard and cook gently for another 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the plumped dried cranberries and their liquid, the cooled sugared cranberries and their liquid, and the onion mixture and pulse to the desired consistency. (If you want it really smooth, you can then press the mixture through a strainer, but it’s also quite nice when left chunky.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Let cool completely, transfer to jars, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If serving straight from the refrigerator, taste again before using and, if needed, add salt and pepper to taste. (A chill tends to mute even otherwise robust flavors, so the chutney may seem underseasoned.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I didn’t want to like this! I’m a homemade-cranberry-sauce, Grandma’s-recipe kind of person. But I couldn’t resist. This is so good. Yes, mustard, but you smell it more than taste it. It’s better after it’s refrigerated awhile. The fresh cranberries—why not use the whole package instead of 7 1/2 ounces? Chopped onion was about 2/3 of a cup and cooked down to less than a 1/4 cup. The sauce was tart when I first tried it but mellowed in the fridge. Now I have to cook turkey!
This is delightfully delicious and oh so easy to make. It’s the perfect accompaniment for leftovers the day after Thanksgiving, and the onions give it such a wonderful flavor. The onions take about 7 minutes to turn golden, so factor in a little bit of extra time when cooking. The overall process, however, is really straightforward with great results.
I’m a big fan of cranberries, especially the fresh ones. There is this incredible tart, crisp freshness that has just the right amount of zing in it. This recipe delivers that, plus a bit extra to boot…the perfect addition to after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. I used fresh cranberries, of course, but the frozen would be fine I’m sure. It did say that the cranberries would take 5 or so minutes to pop but this happened after only 2 or 3. Not much of the water evaporated either before the popping started. I do believe that it left a little too much behind, as I’d like my spread a little thicker. The red onions turned a lovely color and smelled delicious, especially after the vinegar and mustard were added. When finished with the cooking process you’re asked to blend them in a food processor, which I did, but I do believe a hand blender would do the trick and make for a much less messy job than pouring hot liquid and sticky sweetness. I found the end result to be really quite delightful and spreadable, though a little too sweet for my liking. A little more mustard would be better and possibly a little less honey, though the addition of salt and pepper at the end did push it in the savory direction. It did, however, make a delicious addition to a turkey sandwich and would even be delightful on a burger. I don’t think it’d be as nice alongside grilled or roasted meat, as the purée is a bit fine. If more chunky, I think a chutney would be a much prettier if not more flavorful choice.
I followed this recipe to a T and ended up with 1 1/2 pints. This was certainly a pleasant surprise since that gives us more of this tasty spread to smear on lots of goodies. I chose orange juice for my liquid since I often think of cranberries with orange. I did opt to leave mine a bit chunky, as I thought I’d like it that way, as the author does, and I was right. Both my daughter and I enjoyed this spread very much. We had it on toasted sourdough with both cold ham and cold turkey. We were both surprised that we enjoyed the ham more than the turkey since we love cranberry sauce with our turkey at Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, the turkey one was delicious too, we just liked the ham better. I had braised sweet potatoes for lunch and I tried some with those and it was delicious. I also had a grilled sourdough, sharp cheddar cheese sandwich the next day, which I spread some of this on, and that was good too. I see many uses for this wonderful spread.
I love cranberries, from the taste to the color (I also have some outerwear and scarves that color). Even cranberry spills seem easier to clean up than spills from other red foods like other berries or tomatoes or peppers. I’ve done a variety of cranberry chutneys and sauces over the years. So I was happy to try a new recipe using this tart, versatile fruit. From the bright color to the sweet–sour flavor, it didn’t disappoint. It’s more like a relish. Using farmer’s market fresh berries—one of those overfilled pint boxes the farmer dumped in a bag for me—I had more than 2 cups’ worth. Using a scale, the full 2 measuring cups came to 8 ounces. When I processed the entire concoction, I left it slightly chunky. It tasted good while warm and especially after it had chilled a day or so.
I really liked this condiment. I can envision it now with a slice of ham, piece of roasted poultry, or a sausage or turkey burger. It’d be fabulous on a sandwich. I can’t stop thinking of things to put it on. It’s tangy and spicy without being overpowering. I like the addition of the red onion. I did add another 1/2 teaspoon of grainy mustard, as I found the mustard taste too subtle in the first batch. That small change took it from OK to sublime. I pulsed this only a little to combine, as I like the look of the almost-whole berries. I’ll be freezing some, as I’d like to see how it does frozen. This will definitely be going onto my holiday table.
Originally published November 20, 2012