Nov 9, 2010

Spiced cranberry, ginger and pear sauce

This guest post comes courtesy of Catie Schwalb from the lovely blog Pitchfork Diaries. I just can’t wait to eat her Cranberry, Ginger and Pear sauce on Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for another one of her amazing recipes in the days to come!  – Cathy

For years, as a child at the 1970’s American Thanksgiving table, I too believed that cranberry sauce was always cylindrically shaped, with neatly organized parallel rings encompassing it. That is not to say that my family were not great cooks, slaving for days before over dozens of homemade recipes. However, somehow that little wobbly dish seemed like a required fixture on the holiday table, that someone very well might miss if absent. Though it felt far from “food” and as a result, usually went untouched.

It also seemed somewhat sacrilegious to think of smearing that puckeringly sweet jelly on that luscious turkey meat that I had waited an entire year for.  How could this red goo possibly improve on roasted perfection?

So I took a crack at it myself this year. Drawing on ideas of recipes like Duck with a Sour Cherry Sauce, or a deeply flavored Indian Chutney stirred into a chicken salad, ending up with a condiment that I would actually want to add to my turkey to add to it’s flavor. I eliminated a lot of the sugar found it most recipes (up to a cup of white sugar was common).  It’s on the tart end of the spectrum, but balanced, with lovely spice notes that will be beautiful with the richness of the meat.  I think it would also be outstanding dolloped on top of a bowl of plain Greek yogurt for breakfast the next morning, and though not yet road-tested, I imagine pretty great pureed and used as a base for a holiday prosecco cocktail.

Spiced Cranberry, Ginger and Pear Sauce
By Catie Schwalb,

12 ounces (3 cups) fresh cranberries

2 Bosc pears, very ripe, peeled and finely diced

1 ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

¾ cup water

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ cup honey

Combine cranberries, pear, ginger, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  After about 5 minutes, add the honey.  Cook for about 5 minutes more, until the berries have collapsed and the pear had started to breakdown and dissolve.

Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and will also freeze well.

Yields approximately 2 ½ cups


  • Julia

    I couldn’t agree more that there is a lot to be desired with the “traditional” can of cranberry sauce. Your recipe for spiced cranberry, pear and ginger sauce sounds simply delicious and it’s hard to believe that it is a healthier option. I am always in search of healthy recipes, especially for the holidays. I work with Better; if you are in search of the same, I recommend you check out their Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

  • It’s recipes like this that motivate me to make cranberry sauce more frequently throughout the year. I love that you didn’t use loads of sugar, as in most cranberry sauce recipes. The addition of pear and ginger also sounds great! I’m definitely bookmarking this one.

  • This is the second year in a row that I’ve made this cranberry pear sauce to rave reviews! Definitely deserves to be a yearly tradition on our Thanksgiving table.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    That cranberry sauce came from Catie of Pitchfork Diaries. I urge you to check out her great blog!

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