I woke up this morning feeling slightly panicked. It took me a minute, but eventually the awful truth dawned – there was no escaping the big event at the end of the year. I was going have to up my game…
My first instinct was to put on a chicken costume and act headless, but I’m (allegedly) all grown up now, so I put the chicken costume away for another day and decided to face my responsibilities like, well a man. Or a woman. Or like a person who has done this whole Christmas thing before and can probably pull the rabbit out of a hat again.
Then, out of the blue, I remembered that I had bought fresh cranberries the other day; I had jam jars, red wine, a couple of oranges and a bottle of Port – Thunderbirds were a GO.
This is the easiest and most satisfying recipe – you do hardly anything, and you end up with several pots of glorious bitter/sweet red stuff for eating with hot turkey on the day; cold cuts, pates or terrines thereafter, and even as an ingredient in my famous Cheat’s Mince and Cranberry rolls https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/cheats-mince-and-cranberry-rolls/. Yes, I could do this – and so can you..
- A medium/large saucepan – the one that you use for the potatoes is fine.
- a wooden spoon
- A jam funnel, if you have one
- about 6 smallish jam jars, (pretty ones if you’re going to give some away as presents). I got my gorgeous little ones in Lakeland; they’re a brand called Ball, they hold 240ml, and are made in America. They need to be sterilised and heated.
- 3x 300g bags of fresh cranberries
- 4oz granulated sugar
- the grated zest and juice of two large oranges
- 300mls red wine ( I used Rioja this evening because that’s what was lying around)
- 50mls Port
- 2 dessert spoons of balsamic vinegar
METHOD: For experienced cooks only 😉
- Put everything except the Port into the saucepan on a med/high heat
- Bring it to a gentle boil, stir regularly, and watch fascinated, as the cranberries pop
- Reduce the heat a little
- Add the Port.
- Let the Compote bubble gently away for about 20-25 minutes until it has thickened up nicely to about the consistency of a pouring jam
- remove a teaspoonful and allow it to cool, then taste and add more sugar if necessary – it’s meant to be tart, not bitter
- When you’re happy, remove it from the heat and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes while you get the jam jars sorted.
- Decant the compote into your chosen vessels and seal immediately.
- Allow to cool completely, then label and decorate as you see fit
- Because the cranberries we get are often all at different stages of ripeness, you tend to get some whole ones left sitting within the compote. To me, this adds variety, and is one of the delights of this recipe.
- It will keep beautifully for a year or so in a cool place. I used the end of last-year’s batch the other day, and it was perfect.
- It’s not meant to be like the overly-sweet (to me) Cranberry jelly that you buy in supermarkets – it’s much more tart than that. That’s why it’s so good with so many things. It might be wasted on those who prefer a sweeter taste. Or, you know, you can just add more sugar..