Ingredient SpotLight

This month, we take a look at one of America's native children: the cranberry. That's right, cranberries are one of only a handful of major fruits that are native to North America. And while about 20 percent of the national cranberry consumption just occurred during Thanksgiving week, that still means that over 300 million pounds of these tart berries are being enjoyed during other parts of the year.

Grown in bogs, many people think cranberries are grown much like rice but, contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. Instead, they grow on vines in impermeable beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These bogs were originally made by glacial deposits. And, if you're at all worried about running out of a good supply, you have nothing to fear. If you strung all the cranberries produced in North America last year, they would stretch from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times! With all those berries out there to enjoy, it seems like a good time to visit some tried and true recipes for you to enjoy.

Cranberry-Tangerine Relish

Sweet citrus and tangy cranberries are both in season now. This delightful relish takes advantage of both and is wonderful when paired with poultry or pork.
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 tangerine -- zested, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar

Puree half of the cranberries with the tangerine and its zest. Add the sugar and vinegar and mix to combine. Allow the mixture to rest at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus chilling time

Cranberry-Pear Crumble

Cranberries play very nicely with sweet pears and a crunchy topping in this aromatic dessert. Make it perfect by adding a scoop of cinnamon ice cream to each serving.
  • 3 cups cranberries
  • 2 large unpeeled pears -- cored and sliced
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. flour -- divided
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. oatmeal
  • 3/4 c. chopped nuts

In lightly greased shallow baking dish, mix the cranberries, sliced pears, sugar, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of the flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the remaining flour with the brown sugar. Cut in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in the oatmeal and nuts. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the fruit mixture.

Bake the crumble at 375-F degrees for 40 minutes. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Pork Medallions with Cranberry Compote

Everyone knows that cranberries pair well with turkey, but they are also wonderful when served alongside pork. Use lean pork tenderloin in this recipe and the strong flavors will never tell your low fat secret.
For the Compote:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion -- finely chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 (10-12 oz.) jar all-fruit orange marmalade
  • 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple -- well drained

For the Medallions:
  • 2 pork tenderloins -- about 3/4-lb each
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil

For the compote, heat the 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the medallions, cut each tenderloin into 8 slices. Sprinkle the pork with the cumin paprika, salt, and pepper. Saute the pork in the olive oil for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to serving platter and serve with the cranberry compote.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes