My favorite Thanksgiving side dish… cranberry sauce jazzed up with pears, vanilla, and a secret ingredient that’s totally appropriate when you think about it. And, there’s a Harry Potter connection too! Crazy. 🙂 Read on to find out more!
Most Thanksgiving dishes I can take or leave. Turkey, meh. I’ll eat it if it’s there, but if not, no big loss [my husband is crying in the corner right about now]. Mashed potatoes? Alright, but these are better. Stuffing, YUM. Green bean casserole, BLECH. Sweet potatoes, yes, if you hold the marshmallows. Rolls, only if they’re homemade. So, basically we’re at about two of six for my list of Thanksgiving classic necessities. I know every family has their own “necessity” and mine certainly does too–Mixed Vegetables Mornay is one of my faves. But for me? My ultimate fave is cranberry sauce! There are so many ways I like it… as long as it isn’t jellied in a log from a can. 🙂
So, it was to my pleasant surprise when I was brainstorming recipe ideas for this month’s edition of The Book Club Cookbook project that I remembered via reading/flipping through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that Harry’s Christmas feast at Hogwarts included all the traditional holiday fixings–turkey, potatoes, rolls… and cranberry sauce! Erin from The Spiffy Cookie is this month’s host and she selected the first Harry Potter as this month’s book selection. She made Treacle Tart [YUM] but I decided to go for another kind of sweetness, one that will be perfect on your Thanksgiving table! 🙂 Or Christmas table, just like Harry’s.
In the past, I’ve enjoyed my mom’s traditional cranberry orange relish. For a long time, that’s the only way I could imagine it. But then I branched out and have made a cranberry-mint relish, a cranberry pineapple sauce, and even a gingered cranberry-apple sauce. Over the years, there have probably been some other iterations that just haven’t made it to the blog [gasp!]. Sorry, guys. I just keep dreaming up new variations every year, and this year was no different. Since I was making this for a Harry Potter event I knew I wanted to make this something special. I got into reading the Harry Potter books late, but then read them all in one summer… maybe even six weeks. It was crazy, but so fun. Someday I want to re-read them, or even listen to the audiobooks [I’ve heard they’re really good!]. But for now, I’ll just enjoy this cranberry sauce. 🙂
Lately pears have been super cheap at the grocery store [don’t you love it when they practically give away produce?], and I had the idea to add pears to my cranberry sauce when a bunch of them all ripened on the counter on the same day. Since pears are so delightfully sweet, they’re a great pairing [ha – sorry, I had to] with the beautiful, albeit tart, cranberries. You can just cook them down on the stove together with some sugar and water and watch the delicious transformation happen before your eyes! That’s the magic of making homemade cranberry sauce instead of relish–all those popping berries are just so fun to see. Or is that just me? 🙂 But wait! This time, there’s a little extra bit of magic because in addition to the cranberries, pear, and sugar, I added PUMPKIN PIE SPICE to spice up this cranberry sauce! Yup, that’s my secret ingredient. Told you it’s seasonally appropriate! 🙂 And appropriate for a Harry Potter-themed cranberry sauce… since Harry spices up life wherever he goes. Ha ha!
Pumpkin pie spice has all sorts of goodness like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and lemon peel and by adding just a little bit of your [hopefully homemade] blend, your cranberry pear sauce is fruity and scented with warm spices for an unforgettable taste. After everything has cooked down, I added some vanilla extract to mellow things out and that just made it absolutely perfect. 🙂 Good thing cranberries freeze so well–you’ll want to pick up a few extra bags this week so you can make this cranberry sauce whenever you please… even in the middle of summer. 🙂 I know I’ll still be thinking about it then. Ha! Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook–it is so great! What a fun book choice. Thanks for hosting, Erin!
Cranberry Pear Sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/2-1 cup sugar, depending on preferred level of sweetness
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- dash of vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, bring water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil. When boiling, stir in cranberries and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for about 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to burst. Then fold in pear and pumpkin pie spice.
Remove from heat and stir to combine, breaking up some of the whole cranberries with a wooden spoon. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla, then taste [be careful, it’s hot!] and add more sugar if desired. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for up to one week.