Cranberry, Blueberry, Shallot and Dried Cherry Compote

Cranberry sauce was probably not served at this event. The first mention of that type of use of the cranberry (then called by it’s Indian name, sasemineash) didn’t show up for about 50 more years. So in addition to not having thought of making a sweet sauce out of the tart berries, they probably did not have the surplus of sugar needed.

However, it was common practice in English cooking of the time to use tart berries in sauces and broths to accompany meat. So this recipe, while it employs native plants like cranberries, blueberries, cherries and shallots, is not an authentic recipe from the era. But it is tasty and the leftovers were delicious mixed with oatmeal.

1/2 pound small (1-inch-wide) shallots or pearl onions (preferably red), left unpeeled

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup white-wine vinegar

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried sour cherries (5 ounces)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (8 ounces; not thawed if frozen)

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup water

Blanch shallots in a 3-quart saucepan of boiling water 1 minute, then drain. Peel shallots and separate into cloves if necessary.

Cook shallots in butter in 3-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar mixture turns a golden caramel, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully add remaining vinegar, wine, and salt and boil, stirring, 1 minute (use caution, as mixture will bubble up). Add cherries and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until shallots are tender and liquid is syrupy, about 45 minutes.

Add cranberries and water and gently boil over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer compote to a bowl and cool completely.


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