It had never been a problem before. In 27 years of making Thanksgiving, not once had it ever happened. But then last year, I make one little change, and BOOM. Leftover cranberry sauce.
Not just a little leftover cranberry sauce, just enough to anoint a sandwich or two. I mean a vat of leftover cranberry sauce. About three quarters of the cranberry sauce I had made. The same cranberry sauce I perfected over the years: whole fresh cranberries and dried cherries, cooked in port wine and orange and lemon juice, with zests and clove and ground mustard, my mash-up of a traditional cranberry compote and an old school Cumberland sauce. It has always been a huge hit, and once everyone takes their little tub for leftovers, there is always just enough for me and my husband to get through the next day.
And then last year I got all ambitious and made a fresh spicy cranberry salsa in addition to my usual cranberry sauce, full of lime and ginger and serrano pepper and lo and behold the salsa bowl emptied completely and I was awash in the usual cranberry sauce, all sad and abandoned. And since I always make nearly two quarts of the stuff, so that we have plenty for the meal and for everyone to get some to take home? I had so much left.
So, I did what I do? I got creative. Turns out leftover cranberry sauce is the gift that keeps on giving. It is tart enough to go savory, so I made a cranberry vinaigrette by whisking in some white wine vinegar and chopped shallot and canola oil. It was perfect on an escarole salad with toasted almonds. I added some to a bottle of barbecue sauce and made some killer barbecue chicken. I stirred it into some good quality mayo for sandwiches and mashed it into softened butter to spread on toasted English muffins. I brushed some onto thick cut bacon and baked it in the oven for a killer breakfast side. I even mixed it into my usual meatball mix for a little extra oomph.
On the sweet side, things were even easier. I tucked some into frozen puff pastry for little hand pies and filled a crostata tart with it. I thinned it with orange juice and then added confectioners’ sugar for a glaze for pound cake. I simmered it until it thickened and then swirled it into homemade vanilla ice cream. I baked a chocolate cake and put it between the layers and frosted it with a fluffy marshmallow boiled frosting. The last few tablespoons got forked through a batch of scones, by which time one thing was clear: This year, I am definitely making the new popular cranberry salsa again. And I’m making even more of the old cranberry sauce than usual. Because there is so much more to do with it!
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