Cranberry Sauce with Port & Roasted Shallots
This a savory, sweet, tart side dish to serve with any roasted meat any time of year. It also freezes well so don’t worry about leftovers, as if there will be any! If the shallots seem too daunting, or you burn them the first time like I did, or just don’t like them then omit them. The only things you really need to make cranberry sauce are cranberries water and sugar (recipe is on the back of the bag).
  1. Preheat oven to 375*. Peel and quarter the shallots, toss with oil. Roast for 20 minutes until golden. Mix balsamic vinegar and 1 T white sugar drizzle over hot shallots to coat. Continue roasting until caramelized, stirring occasionally about 10 min. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Bring port, sugars and water to a low boil in a large, heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve sugars. Add orange juice and cranberries (cherries if using). Reduce heat to simmer and cook until berries “pop” stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the thyme if using, and shallots. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill overnight. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Will keep for 1 week refrigerated.
Recipe Notes

This recipe makes a lot because my family likes to take home leftovers but it is easily reduced. Cranberries are very forgiving.

Shallots are normally about  1 1/2″ – 2″ big so I have no idea where the Fred Flintstone versions I have been seeing at the grocery store these days are coming from.  If the shallots you are seeing are like the behemoths I am finding,  3″ – 4″, then use fewer and cut smaller, about quarter sized pieces. (I like them more julienned in the final product if you have the knife skills.) I have included a picture with a dollar bill as reference so you can see how huge these bad boys are!

Try to use fresh cranberries as they contain more natural pectin which is what thickens the sauce. 

The berries really do “pop”! It’s a lot of fun to watch the process and this is when they release their pectin. Wait until most have completed the process before removing from heat. 

The alcohol in the port will cook out leaving only the flavor so don’t worry about using so much, no one is going catch a buzz off this “sauce”. If you have other reasons for not wanting to use alcohol you can substitute an equal amount of water, pomegranate, cherry or grape juice. 

Adding the thyme at the end preserves its flavor. If you add it too early it will all be cooked away. I tried using dried thyme once and it tasted muddy so only use fresh in this dish. 

I have thrown in a cinnamon stick, 1/4 t ground cinnamon, 1/4 t ground ginger and 3-4 whole star anise for a warmer flavor profile instead of the thyme (add whole spices when water comes to the simmer). Just make sure to remove all of the pieces before refrigerating. They are easier to get out before the sauce jellies. A teaspoon or two of allspice or pumpkin pie spice would work nicely too. Add to taste. Don’t be afraid to play with flavor. 

If you like a Southwest style add some roasted, seeded, skinned and diced jalapenos and chopped fresh cilantro when it calls for the shallots and thyme. You could also use diced roasted Anaheim or Poblano chilies for less heat.  Roasting the peppers is key here to give the sauce a warm, earthy flavor. You don’t want it to be to harsh.