Cranberry poblano salsa
Cranberry sauce for many means this: a tubular, red, gelatinous substance that slithers out of a can, shiny ridges included free of charge. You’d think with so many people interested in fresh, local foods that it would be a relic from the past, a candidate for the museum of regrettable edibles. But I know it’s still a popular holiday item because this time of year you see stacks of this canned product on prominent display at grocery stores, Whole Foods included. Why? Why? Why?
I grew up thinking this was the only way to prepare cranberries and it scared me (much like marshmallows on sweet potatoes). I always said, “No thanks,” and loaded up on more stuffing instead. Which is a shame, because nothing complements turkey and cornbread stuffing better than the tang of cranberries—it’s the trinity of Thanksgiving flavor.
What changed my mind (and my palate)? A recipe I found in Bon Appetit many years ago. It mixes cooked cranberries with poblanos, cilantro, orange juice and pecans creating a spicy, sweet, and tart salsa that’s terrific with turkey, but also plays well with pork, tamales, or even tortilla chips. And while I know now that there’s a whole world of things you can do with cranberries, I still always return to this salsa—my first cranberry love, if you will.
Cranberry poblano salsa
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 poblano chili
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 12 ounces cranberries
- 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Pinch cayenne
- Roast the bell pepper and Poblano chile under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the peppers in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and dice.
- Meanwhile, place the sugar, orange juice, water, and cranberries into a large saucepan and toss until the sugar is evenly distributed over the cranberries. While occasionally stirring, cook the cranberries over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and if the cranberries are way too tart for your liking, stir in more sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
- Once the peppers are ready, stir them into the cranberry salsa along wit the orange peel, pecans, cilantro, cayenne, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Can serve either warm or chilled. This can be made ahead and will keep 4 days in the refrigerator.
I make a lovely cranberry sauce with fresh berries, pearl onions, orange juice, garlic, balsamic vinegar and a little wine. Your recipe sounds wonderful too.
But I’ll tell you what, nothing says home for the holidays to me like the canned stuff, with all the ridges and indentations of the can itself and the priceless squelching sound it makes when you shake it out into a serving dish. Part of the power of food for me is its ability to evoke memory, to carry me back instantly to a place I’d almost forgotten. Viva the canned cranberry sauce — it’s a part of who I am and I buy a can every year. (Am I disqualified as a foodie now? Pity.)
Eliza–Dried cranberries in the stuffing sounds perfect!
Inflightsnack–I don’t know what you’re talking about–I think jelly doughnuts are beautiful!
County Clerk–Here you are, sliced sauce
Jessica–Thanks for stopping by! I love the title, “Someone send me an enchilada.” I can completely relate!
Christine–I don’t think liking the canned stuff will take away your foodie credentials, especially after reading the poetic explanation of your affection.
I have to confess a fondness for the cranberry log. It was always one of the parts of thanksgiving dinner I liked forward to as a child. Probably because it was such a big sugar shot. That stuff is as sweet as a dessert.
I will further confess that I was even a little disappointed this year when the person who had told me that she was going to bring the canned stuff because it was all her children would eat arrived instead with basic, homemade cranberry sauce. Apparently she’d decided it was time for her children to break their canned cranberry sauce habit.
Julie–I don’t like the log, but that sounds mighty cruel–trying to break her kids’ canned cranberry habit! I hope they weren’t too tramautized.
The cranberry salsa sounds really great. We eat a different version (cranberries, cilantro, jalepeno’s, lime juice, green onions) but will have to try bon apetit version this year!