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Cranberry Conversion

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We do all sorts of projects here, including our gigantic Food & Wine Annual cookbook, which includes hundreds of recipes from the year. To help facilitate this massive project, Zoe Singer--an amazing cook and cookbook author (check out her new book, The Flexitarian Table)--has joined us for several months. It turns out that Zoe has been spending a lot of time cooking cranberries this Fall. Here are her thoughts on cranberries, and a great recipe to boot.

If you only eat something once a year, it'd better be good. So I’ve always groaned inwardly when relatives arrive on Thanksgiving with cranberry sauce involving exotica like star anise, jalapenos, candied ginger, orange zest or other perhaps reasonable yet untraditional additions. Then I run into the kitchen and whip up the whole berry-sugar-and-water sauce that I love for its gorgeous simplicity and once-a-year, 100% cranberry taste. The recipe takes minutes and its perfect—why play around with it?
    But this year I’ve been warming up with mini-Thanksgivings centered around roast chicken and cranberry sauce and I’ve had to eat my words: I’m tired of my trusty sauce. So last weekend I started improvising, cooking shallots and rosemary in butter, sprinkling on sugar and letting it caramelize, then pouring in chicken stock, white wine, water and cranberries. The resulting whole berry sauce still had a full-on sweet-tart cran flavor, but the added savory richness gave it a depth that I think works even better with roast poultry. I’ll include my recipe below.
Now that I finally get the whole fancy cranberry sauce thing, I think I’ll give some of the countless other recipes out there a try. I plan to start with Marcia Kiesel’s Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds , which sounds just right: creative, yet familiar enough to serve at an iconic meal that I look forward to all year.

Savory Cranberry Sauce with Shallots and Rosemary
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or duck fat if it’s on hand)
2 tablespoons minced shallot
One inch fresh rosemary sprig
Pinch kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

1.    In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots, rosemary and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent and the rosemary is very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
2.    Stir in the sugar and white wine. Raise the heat to medium-high and let cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar is a golden caramel color, about 5 minutes.
3.   Carefully pour in the water and chicken stock and stir to dissolve the caramel. Add the cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries have popped and formed a sauce, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Remove the rosemary and season with salt if needed and black pepper. Serve at room temperature or chill before serving.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.