There’s something glorious about fall that makes me want cranberry sauce smothered chicken or turkey. Maybe it’s an association with Thanksgiving? Regardless of the source of this association, I decided to indulge my craving for cranberry sauce by playing with some new ideas. Specifically, I wanted to continue my search for the perfect sweetener for cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce of my youth was made with white sugar, which doesn’t have any flavor whatsoever. The good thing about this is that the dominant flavor is cranberry. The bad thing is that white sugar doesn’t have much nutrition to impart and I’d far rather use a healthier alternative. I’ve tried cranberry sauce with evaporated cane juice, honey, dates, fruit juice, and various combinations of the above, and never completely loved the flavor combination of these sweeteners with cranberries. I figured the one natural sugar that I hadn’t tried yet was maple syrup. I had been hesitant to try it since I knew the maple would be a strong flavor and thought that it wouldn’t be very compatible with the equally strong flavor of cranberries. But, as my ideas cemented for the bacon-apple chicken burgers, it seemed like a good time to try out the cranberry-maple combination. I felt confident that even if maple syrup wasn’t the best flavor to go with cranberries, it would be great with bacon, apple, rosemary and chicken.
Shortly after finishing our meal, I called my mom. My exact words were “Mom, never make cranberry sauce with anything other than maple syrup ever again.”. It was soooo much better than I could have imagined, the flavors combining perfectly (that’ll learn me for making assumptions!). AND, it was the most amazing compliment to the burgers (which are pretty darned tasty on their own too!). So, while this recipe looks like it’s all about a flavorful way to spruce up some ground chicken or turkey, it’s really about the cranberry sauce. Once you try it, you’ll understand.
I made these burgers with ground pasture-raised chicken, but you could just as easily use ground turkey or even ground pork instead. I also pan fried them, but I think you could get a wonderful added dimension of flavor by barbecuing them, which I will definitely be trying next time. You could also bake them in the oven if you don’t have a large frying pan (I would try 400F for about 20 minutes, but check the temperature of the patties to be sure).
Oh yeah, and no modifications necessary to make this autoimmune protocol-friendly. It’s good to go.
Ingredients (Maple-Cranberry Sauce):
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- Combine cranberries, maple syrup and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
- Simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the berries have popped and the sauce has thickened.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to eat (or at least 1 hour).
Ingredients (Bacon-Apple Chicken Burgers):
- 2-2 1/2 pounds ground chicken or ground turkey
- 8 oz bacon (if using 2 1/2 pounds ground turkey, you can use 10oz of bacon)
- 1 large apple (good cooking varieties are Granny Smith, Fuji, and Rome Beauty)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt or truffle salt
- Place bacon in a cold frying pan and then turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook, flipping once or twice, until bacon is crispy.
- Meanwhile, very finely dice onion and apple (you could also grate the apple if dicing is too much work). Chop the rosemary.
- When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and add the onion to the bacon fat in the pan. Saute 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to soften. Add the apple and rosemary and continue sauteing until onion is browned and both onion and apple are soft (about 5-8 more minutes, depending on how finely diced your onion and apple are).
- Once bacon has cooled enough to handle, chop into small pieces (think bacon bit size).
- Combine ground chicken, bacon, apple and onion mix, and salt in a bowl. Mix well with your hands. Form into patties. If your pan cooled down, heat it back up over medium heat (if it’s still hot, just turn the element down to medium). You may want to add a tablespoon of cooking fat (more bacon grease would be great, but you can use whatever cooking fat you have on hand). Add the patties to the pan (you might want to cook in batches).
- Cook patties, flipping once half way, until full cooked (internal temperature should be 160F and I definitely recommend checking with a meat thermometer). This will take 15-25 minute total, depending on the size of your patties.
- Serve with chilled maple-cranberry sauce!