It’s not a coincidence that my most recent Whole30 was timed perfectly to end before Thanksgiving. For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving Dinner has been my favorite meal of the year. Last year marked my first Thanksgiving since I started Paleo, and we had a lot of fun trying Paleo-friendly versions of our old favorites. We made an excellent “cornbread” stuffing with homemade sausage, a delicious Turkey a la Nom Nom Paleo, and an outstanding Pecan Pie. I ate clean and I felt good. But it wasn’t really a Whole30 sort of meal.
With that said, I know there are lots of people out there who will be on Whole30 when Turkey Day rolls around. So I hope this cranberry sauce recipe will come in handy. I invented it on Friday afternoon when I found Kosher turkey breasts at the local Whole Foods and decided to cook them sous vide for Shabbat lunch. I knew my kids would be disappointed to have turkey without cranberry sauce, but since my daughter and I are Whole30, I couldn’t buy anything off the shelf, and none of my stock recipes would work. Full disclosure: I tried to make a no-sugar-added cranberry sauce last year and it was a fail. But I’ve learned a lot this past year, and I took a new approach, sweetening the tart cranberries by reducing a spice-infused apple cider and adding some dates.
The sauce was a big hit, and the perfect complement to the tender, juicy turkey breast that came out of the water bath. It isn’t too sweet, so the cranberries really shine.
I was too lazy to chop up the dates, so I just pureed the whole sauce once it was done, leaving me with a very smooth sauce. If you prefer a chunky sauce, just mince the dates as finely as possible before adding them to the pot, and they’ll basically melt into the sauce as it cooks.
- 4 cups apple cider
- Heaping ½ tsp whole cloves
- Heaping ½ tsp dried orange peel
- 1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp cinnamon chips
- 3 cups cranberries
- 6 medjool dates, pitted and minced
- Put the cider and the spices in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. If you want to save a step, put the cloves and orange peel into a cheesecloth satchel or a spice bag to keep them contained.
- Bring the cider to a boil over medium-high heat and leave it to reduce for 20-30 minutes, until reduced by about half.
- Remove the spices (if in a satchel) or strain the cider and then return it to the pot.
- Add the cranberries and dates and cook for an additional 20 minutes at a lively simmer.
- For a smooth sauce, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. For a chunky sauce, simply stir vigorously to combine.