Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Morning Dried Fruit Compote

With a big feast on the way, breakfast on Thanksgiving day needs to be simple and use minimal kitchen space.  But the first meal must still have some substance and a little something special to mark the day too. 

A batch of dried fruit compote made a few days ahead can be set out to accompany simple fare like oatmeal, granola, toast and quick breads.  It can even be spooned over yogurt.  Stir in baked apples or pears (also prepared a day or two ahead) to extend the meal.  

Our version is all golden to celebrate colors of fall and garnished with crystallized ginger for a bit of sparkle.  You can mix and match the dried fruits you like best.  The key to the dish is to rehydrate the whole dried fruits to plump pillows of sweetness.  A sweet liquor forms as you cook down the juices with the fruit sugars.  We use a cider base with a little rum.  You can substitute brandy or calvados or use all fruit juice.  (Thin the cider with a bit of apple or orange juice if going virgin.)

Rum & Cider Fall Fruit Compote
Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried calmyra figs (the yellow ones)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cider
1/4 cup water
1/4 cum rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
optional garnish: slivers of crystallized ginger

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small, heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  
  2. Bring to a boil, them turn the heat to very low and cover.  Simmer covered for 30 minutes checking every 5 minutes to stir.  If the liquid evaporates to quickly, add more water and lower the heat to the lowest setting.
  3. During last 10 minutes, remove top and keep an eye on the pot.  Fruit is ready when plump and about the size of their fresh versions.  (They will be slightly flatter.) Continue cooking on low another 10 minutes if your fruit is very dry and needs extra hydration time.
  4. Let fruit cool in the pot.  Transfer to a seal-able container.   Store in the refrigerator.    
  5. To rehear, warm in a microwave on half power.  Garnish with crystallized ginger just before serving.  
Variation: Add fresh baked fruits like chopped apples or pears tot he mixture.