Sunday, November 24, 2013

Breaking Bourbon

V for Vanilla Bean
Smoldering Sauce in a Jar
Sunset as Colorful as Cranberries & Bourbon
Today I broke the seal on the bourbon bottle. Officially, it is "Let the cooking begin!" This year's theme (thank you, Spokane Review) is "Bird, Meet Bourbon."

But before we get to the bird, we start with the condiment most loved by slices of tender white breast or dark leg. Cranberry sauce. Since my bird will meet up with bourbon, why not the cranberries, too?

A few tweaks to one of my favorite recipes and we have Smoldering Bourbon Cranberry Sauce. What makes it smoldering is the hint of vanilla and cardamon layered among the bourbon infusion. These are adult cranberries (seriously, the alcohol is added after cooking so parents beware).

Cranberry sauce is so easy to make that it is wonder that the canned cran-goo even exists. You can substitute apple juice for the bourbon if you prefer it less boozy. Be sure to use whole cardamon seeds.  Pre-powdered cardamon from the grocery store might as well be powdered sawdust. Except sawdust would be more flavorful.

You can get a jar of whole seeds from Penzeys Spices or try a co-op or natural food store that has bulk spices. Use a mortar and pestle or place seeds in a heavy baggie, set on a cutting board and hammer. A hammer is my favorite way to crush peppercorns!

This particular recipe is super easy because you bake the cranberries. No stove-top stirring. It stores well in the refrigerator for a week and is best made ahead. Thus it was the first Thanksgiving recipe to break the seal on the bourbon bottle.

Smoldering Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (about a pound)
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamon (peel hulls, crush seeds)
3" of vanilla bean
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dump cranberries into a 9 x 13-inch dish and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon and crushed cardamon. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Place the bean in the mix, too. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Pull from the oven and mix well with a wooden spoon. Cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove, mix once more and cool about 10 minutes. Then add the bourbon (or apple juice). Mix and pour into a large canning jar. Seal the lid and store in the frig and let the flavors smolder.

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