How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cranberry Noir

Teaching is a great job because of the students. We gain at least as much as we give them. I learn something from a student every day, and because on Fridays my students are usually in elementary or middle school, I gain even more fresh ideas than the average university professor.

Photo: Leah Nash for NYT. Food photography is definitely best left to the professionals, especially for a dish like this.
And sometimes what I get from students is not just fresh ideas, but actual cool stuff. In this case: very fresh cranberries. A few years ago, I played a small role in a student getting an internship with a major cranberry grower. She is still with that grower, and this Thanksgiving I am thankful that she has brought us berries!

She did so just as I learned of a recipe that calls for Pinot Noir and cranberries. I was prepared simply to put equal amounts of each in a pan and cook until it was sauce, but I found the actual recipe is a bit more interesting, full of spices.

I used a spice grinder rather than a coffee grinder, because spices would definitely taint coffees. I also used vanilla extract because our local store did not carry vanilla pods. I then heated all of the ingredients in an indispensable cast-iron skillet. I cooked it for a bit longer than called for, but otherwise stuck pretty close to the recipe.

When Pam walked in the house she exclaimed, "It smells like Christmas!" Which of course it did.

We are going to let this chill overnight and will pair it with another Pinot Noir, but for now we can rely on taste tests of the warm sauce to confirm that this is delicious!

  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 cups fresh or thawed frozencranberries
  • 1 ½ cups Oregon pinot noir
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 cup clover or wildflower honey
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 6 strips orange zest, about 1 inch by 3 inches, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 (4-inch) sprigs rosemary
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod

    1. Combine allspice, cloves and peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground.
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, wine, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, orange zest, rosemary, cinnamon stick and ground spices.
    3. With the tip of a paring knife, split vanilla pod lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scrape seeds from pod. Add seeds and pod to pot.
    4. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until cranberries have burst and liquid thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard zest, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool.

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