Well, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? One moment I’m making pumpkin french toast & the next I’m gone for weeks! It’s been a rough almost two months, but with the end of the semester nearing and the holidays upon us, I have every reason to make it through and get back to spending some time here with you all. Good riddance, first colds of the season, stomach flu, ailing relatives, antibiotic allergies, clogged up kitchen sink, hives! I’m telling you, we’ve had a rotten few weeks around the Femme Fraîche Fortress! Our survival, though, just serves as added material to consider around our Thanksgiving table this week.
I’ve been organizing and cooking our Thanksgiving dinners the past few years, often with the help of friends, and this cranberry & clementine conserve is a tried and true staple. I’m such a fan of this stuff, that I make it at all different times of the year (it’s totally acceptable to hoard cranberries while they’re fresh & freeze them, didn’t you know?) and pair it with so many other dishes other than the glory that is roasted turkey. It is, perhaps obviously, amazing alongside chicken and also pork, but it’s also delicious used as a jelly, spread on wheat toast that’s been topped with cream cheese. I’ve garnished oatmeal with it, swirled it into yogurt, and even had it on vanilla ice cream once. My grandmother, who is not the best judge of how to pair foods, also swears by eating it with meatloaf. I can’t vouch for that one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s strangely delicious – it seems to be the perfect topper or side to many different kinds of meals.
What’s behind its versatility? I think it’s the very way in which it is such a mélange of flavors and textures. It is tart from the fresh cranberries and Granny Smith apple, yes, but it’s also sweet from the clementine juice and golden raisins, citrusy and fragrant from the zests, and crunchy from the toasted walnuts. When paired with something savory, it is, in fact, a perfect bite. Try this delicious take on cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving meal. It will be the perfect addition this year and for those to come, though I’m willing to bet that once you try this, it will finds its way into your fridge – and heart! – all throughout the year.
Cranberry & Clementine Conserve
Yields approximately 4 cups; adapted slightly from here.
12 ounces of fresh cranberries
1-3/4 cups of white, granulated sugar
1 cup of water
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 Clementines, zested & juiced (may substitute 1 orange)
1 Lemon, zested & juiced
3/4 cup of golden raisins
3/4 cup of toasted walnuts, chopped
In a dry skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and fragrant (you can always tell when nuts are done toasting by the amazing smell!); approximately 5 minutes. Be sure the walnuts are in a single layer in order to get even toasting. If you are working with pre-chopped walnuts, this process may take less than 5 minutes. Once your walnuts are toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool before chopping roughly if necessary. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and water and heat over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberry skins are mostly all popped. Stir this mixture occasionally and don’t be alarmed if a bit of pink foam forms; this is just the berries releasing their pectin, which will help the sauce gel up. Next, add the chopped apple, the zests, the lemon & clementine juices, and stir together. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the golden raisins and the toasted walnuts. Stir to combine and allow to cool fully before transferring to a storage container. Serve chilled.
Cranberry & Clementine Conserve keeps well in the fridge for over a week and takes very well to being frozen and thawed when next you need it.