Perhaps one of the least heralded parts of the Thanksgiving spread is the cranberry sauce. There it sits on a plate, in the middle of the table, oftentimes still retaining the shape of the can it was extracted from. Dinner ends, and it’s still there. Maybe someone cut a piece out of the corner, but mostly it just took up space on the table.
Enough of this, I say! Stop serving that gelatinous red clump, and give this condiment the attention it deserves. I make this cranberry sauce every year, and I love the reactions it gets. I think it’s because people don’t understand the purpose of cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving meals are notoriously heavy, and cranberry sauce goes a long way to brighten up each bite, cutting through the richness of all the gravies, casseroles and pies. This recipe is crazy-simple, and will make you a believer.
Here’s what you need:
• 1 bag of cranberries (put them in a strainer, rinse them, and pick out any mushy berries or stems)
• zest of 1 orange (like a tbsp)
• about a 3 inch long piece of ginger, peeled, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick
• 1 cup sugar
• 12oz fresh orange juice (of you can use a store bought juice not from concentrate, like Simply Orange brand)
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
• pinch of nutmeg
So put everything in a pan on medium low heat and simmer for like an hour. Pics:
Heads up, you want to make sure your ginger pieces are round and shaped differently from the apple. the first year I used ginger in this, I cut them about the same size as the apple, and when it came time to fish them out, I couldn’t tell the difference. A few people were lucky enough during dinner to chomp into a giant piece of ginger, which was not ideal.
So just let everything simmer for an hour, until all the berries pop and the liquid has reduced. If the liquid reduces too much, add a little water. Remove the ginger and cinnamon sticks, and mash the mixture all together with a fork, popping any berries that may not have popped yet. Give it a taste and add more sugar if needed. This may seem like a lot of sugar, but cranberries are pretty bitter, and you need the sugar to counteract that. Store it in the fridge at least overnight. Boom:
The consistency is more like a preserve than a jelly, and making it a day or two in advance will be one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving.
What are your thoughts on cranberry sauce? Is there someone in your family who does something special with it? Or maybe you like the can-shaped version. Ain’t no shame in that! Give me the scoop and I’ll get back with ya on Monday, with the main event – the turkey. See ya then.
Links to all the posts in this series:
• Savory Cornbread Stuffing
• Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)
• Country-Style Herbed Mashed Potatoes
• Dijon Country Gravy Made with Turkey Drippings
• Homemade Cranberry Sauce Worth Serving
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bacon Vinaigrette
• How to Roast the Perfect Turkey
• Buttery and Crusty Herb-Topped Dinner Rolls
• Light and Airy Pumpkin-Ricotta Cheesecake
• How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Meal In One Oven