Can't resist popping the bubble wrap that comes tucked in all those holiday packages? Then you'll get a kick out of one of my favorite culinary equivalents: the snap, crackle and pop of whole, fresh cranberries as they burst from the heat in the pan.
Don't go overboard, though. If you let the berries continue to cook too long after they pop, the sauce will turn bitter.
No doubt, cranberries are a revered holiday tradition. But there's no reason not to slather the lovely red sauce on foods year-round, because the native American berry is bursting with nutrition.
An excellent source of vitamin C, the berry reportedly protected the first New Englanders from scurvy. A very good source of dietary fiber and a good source of manganese and vitamin K, fresh cranberries also contain more antioxidants than dried.
Known as "bounceberries," fresh cranberries actually should bounce when ripe.
This recipe for spicy jalapeno cranberry sauce contains sugar, water and either fresh or frozen berries. The simple recipe lets the berries do all the talking, but when you add a jalapeno (also high in vitamin C) your taste buds get a good jingle.
Fresh, whole cranberries are widely available October through December in the produce department. Refrigerate fresh cranberries in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for a month. But freeze a few extra bags; cranberries keep frozen for up to a year. And it's not necessary to defrost cranberries before using.
You can prepare this dish the day before. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Serve the sauce as an accompaniment to roast turkey, ham or other holiday entree.
Spicy Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 green onion (white and green portions), minced
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in cranberries. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until cranberries are softened, many are split and juice is thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in jalapeno pepper and onion. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Makes 1 3/4 cups.
Per (1-tablespoon) serving: 38 calories (none from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 1 milligram sodium, trace dietary fiber.
The Wichita Eagle—11/24/09