Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cranberries in a Slack Oven

One of the reasons I look forward to autumn is fresh cranberries.  When I was a kid, sweetened dried cranberries (now available everywhere) did not exist. So I still get a little anticipatory charge from seeing the bags of  fresh berries in the stores every autumn, and I still pick up a few extra bags to throw in the freezer. Just in case I want to make something with cranberries after the holidays are over.  
Aren't they gorgeous?
This is not a particularly healthy recipe (unless we count all the Vitamin C from the berries) but everyone needs an easy holiday dish. This takes about 5 minutes of hands-on effort, one hour of cooking time and one pot. I found the recipe in a book on colonial cooking, and like cranberry sauce today, it was recommended as a side dish for roast birds. "Slack" means an oven that isn't very hot.

Cranberries in a Slack Oven
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups brown or white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
1. Spread the cranberries in an iron skillet that has a cover.
2. Crumble the sugar over the berries, cover the skillet and place in a slack oven (250 degrees) for one hour. The berries pop in the heat from the oven, the juice combines with the sugar and makes a sauce.
3. Remove the lid and pour brandy in the skillet. Stir and serve.
Just a glass to encourage the cook
You can use white sugar instead of brown, or a combination of the two. I like using brown because the molasses in it adds some depth to the flavor. But if you want a prettier, brighter colored sauce, use white sugar.
The amount of sugar can be played with. I like a fairly tart sauce, so I used a pound and a half of cranberries to 2 cups of sugar.
I used Grand Marnier (the orange flavor goes well with the cranberries) but any decent brandy will do. You can also fancy this up by adding orange zest to the recipe, but it seems a shame to make it more complicated.


  1. Looks amazing! I want to lick that spatula clean. How do you plan to use it--just as cranberry sauce or in other ways as well?--and how much did the recipe make?

  2. The recipe made a smidegen more than 4 cups. I plan on using it as cranberry sauce, but leftovers (and I know I will have leftovers) work well stirred into plain yogurt. I have also added these to a scone recipe I thought needed some pep. One of the great things about cranberry sauce is it freezes beautifully, so you can put it in small containers and defrost at will.