Ever had an unsweetened cranberry? It's pretty gross; you might as well be eating citrus peel. However, when you add enough sweetener, the result is a delicious sweet-and-sour flavor. In general, I prefer cranberries in sweets rather than savory dishes, because these bitter berries need SO much sugar that by the time you've added enough for a balanced taste, you're left with a dessert. For Thanksgiving, though, I find that people are loathe to stray from tradition, so a side dish it is. On the plus side, cranberries are very nutritious, with only 4 grams of sugar per cup (and 5 grams of fiber!). When eating low-carb/low-glycemic, while fruit is mostly eschewed, berries and grapefruit are acceptable in moderation (primal/paleo eaters may consume a bit more variety). I love the combination of citrus and cranberries, but I went with white grapefruit instead of the more ubiquitous (and more sugary) cranberry-orange. A final sprinkle of fresh mint added a refreshing accent to the tart fruits.
I used Splenda in place of sugar. Many people prefer to use a small amount of natural sweetener (such as fruit juice or raw honey) instead of cooking with lots of artificial sweeteners. However, as I said above, cranberries require SO much sugar that you simply cannot get away with just a tablespoon of maple syrup or something. If you do not want to use Splenda and you do not want to use tons of sugar, I would suggest an alternate side dish; this beet and pomegranate salad is tonally similar and would probably work well.
Sugar forms a thick syrup which Splenda does not; so, I used a little bit of xanthan gum to thicken the juices. Xanthan gum is a vegetable starch which contains 0 net carbs and is available at most health food stores. Cranberries are very high in pectin, so you can probably get away with not using it, though it will be a bit runny.
CRANBERRY-GRAPEFRUIT SAUCE WITH MINT
- 1 8-oz bag cranberries (I used frozen raw berries, since that's all the supermarket had)
- 3/4 cup granular Splenda
- 1 white grapefruit, preferably unwaxed organic
- 1 Tbs mint, shredded (2 Tbs if you really like mint)
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but recommended)
- Remove the outer peel from the grapefruit. I used a zester but if you don't have one you could remove strips with a vegetable peeler and then slice them thinly. Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add the Splenda and grapefruit peel. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While peel is simmering, supreme the grapefruit and chop up the segments, making sure to reserve all of the juice. Or if you're lazy, just juice the grapefruit.
- Add the grapefruit flesh and juice to the simmering water, as well as the bag of cranberries. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- If using xanthan gum, sprinkle it evenly over the cranberry sauce (do not just dump it in or it will clump). Mix to combine.
- Transfer to a bowl, stir in mint, then chill until cold, preferably overnight.