Cranberry sauce was my very first contribution to the family Thanksgiving meal. I first made it when I was picking up an interest in cooking when I was probably 10 or 11. Since making it that first year, I’ve been “in charge” of the cranberry sauce ever since. I play around with the recipe from time to time, adding citrus zest some years, using balsamic vinegar other years… but the basic recipe has stayed the same. It only takes about 5 minutes to make!
This year I added a splash of both cognac brandy and Chambord (a raspberry liqueur) to the sauce just before I took it off the heat. I didn’t let the alcohol cook off, but the flavors weren’t overwhelming as I only used about half an ounce of each. I’ll provide my baseline recipe below, as well as some suggestions of how you can modify it and play around with flavors.
1 lb of fresh cranberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
tiny pinch of salt
Rinse the cranberries under cool water. Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, water and salt in a small sauce pan. Over medium high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. As the sauce boils the cranberries will burst and hiss. Stir occasionally and smoosh the the berries against the side of the sauce pan with you spoon. After boiling for 3-5 mins most of the cranberries will have burst and the sauce will begin to thicken.
Pour into your serving dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is preferable – this is a great Wednesday evening prep activity). The natural fruit pectin will help the cranberry sauce thicken to the consistency of loose preserves, but it will not firm up to like the canned stuff.
You could substitute pomegranate juice for the OJ, which would be more tangy. If you do this, might want to step up the sugar a tad.
The zest of a lemon or orange is a really nice touch. I didn’t add citrus zest this year because the raspberry flavor of the Chambord is so dominate.
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar added just before you take it off the heat adds some interesting depth of flavor.
A few whole cloves added in when boiling the mixture gives it a more earthy character.