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Sweet, Sour and Spicy Sauce for Game Meat by Scott Leysath

Cranberries don’t make it too far out of the bog without getting paired with something sweet. Fall is cranberry season.

If you’ve ever taken a bite into a fresh, unsweetened cranberry, you know that the taste is nothing like what you get from something that’s been made with cranberries. Cranberry sauce, chutney, relish and, of course, the cranberry juice that occasionally floats on top of a vodka drink have all been sweetened or they would taste sour. 

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During the holidays we make giant batches of stuff made with cranberries to serve alongside turkeys and, unfortunately, the green bean casserole. Coincidentally, we do most of our hunting in the fall and winter months so it makes perfect sense to join in-season cranberries with whatever we drag home from the woods.

I’m not nuts about really sweet sauces, especially on lean meat. If the sauce is a little sweet, I like to add a little heat…and usually something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar. How you balance the three flavors is entirely up to you and your own taste buds. Best of all, you can always adjust the ingredients at the end of the recipe. Too spicy? Add more sweet stuff. Too sweet? More sour.

Cranberry Chipotle Sauce

Try it on waterfowl, antlered game and game birds. Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the Hispanic section of most markets. Chipotle seasoned hot sauce, or any hot sauce, will work in a pinch. Start with a little of the canned chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Taste it with some cooked meat. Wait 15 seconds so that your palate has a chance to process the heat and then add more chipotle if hotter makes you happier.

2 cups cranberries

1 cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup cranberry juice

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, stem and seeds removed

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, uncovered, in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring often until cranberries are tender and onions are fully cooked. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt. The sauce can be served chunky or puréed and strained through a mesh strainer for something smoother.

VIDEO: You’ve probably noticed those dried peppers at the store or hanging from the front of a Mexican restaurant, but didn’t know what to do with them. Dried spicy, and sometimes smoky peppers add a depth of flavor to your southwestern sauces. It only takes about 30 minutes to rehydrate them before processing into a smooth paste. Susie Jimenez talks about how she does it.Sweet, Sour and Spicy Sauce for Game Meat

Scott Leysath
Scott Leysath
Quite possibly the best chef you’ve never heard of…that’s Scott Leysath. Known for many things as well as being an executive chef, he’s also known as host of the Sporting Chef on television as well. He’s an avid hunter/angler who has developed a cult-like following over three decades of recipes, public appearances, cooking columns, cookbooks and TV shows.