Nov 24, 2010

Double Cranberry Sauce

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If you buy a pre-cooked turkey.

If you make stuffing from a box.

If the gravy you crave comes from a jar.

I judge you for none of it. You go on and love all up on yourself and do what makes Thanksgiving taste like Thanksgiving to you. Whatever makes you celebrate the heck out of this grand American tradition during which we do nothing but eat like a bunch of crazies is all right by me. But can I make one teeny, tiny suggestion? If you make nothing else from scratch whatsoever, go on and do something nice for yourself and your loved ones and adorn your plates with this cranberry sauce. And experience the sort of intense admiration that perhaps the inventor of that weird-but-iconic cornucopia thing experienced on a Thanksgiving long, long ago.

Think of a great homemade cranberry sauce as the crown jewel on a glorious meal of splendor. If you’re the kind that slaves over the meal for weeks leading up to the actual holiday, clipping recipes months ahead of time, nuturing a bread starter in September, brining your heritage bird for days–then this ruby-red accoutrement is the sort of thing that just makes everything that much more magical.

But if you’re more of the type to make a few calls and leave the heavy lifting to the experts, whipping up a batch of this cranberry sauce is still the absolute right thing to do–elevating the meal to a home-cooked level, a jazzy and impressive little button that you can call your own. And really, what else do we yearn for with our holiday cooking and baking other than to be jazzy and impressive?

Even better, the impressive jazziness of which I speak can be yours with mere minutes of prep time and less than 30 inactive minutes on the stovetop, save an occasional stir or two. Sweet-tart, bold with citrus and a good hit of brandy. The texture here is what I think makes it a real winner–it starts with fresh cranberries and finishes by folding in dried cranberries which plump a bit as the sauce cools, but maintain their character and intense, almost winey, cranberry flavor. Double cranberry sauce. Double awesome. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Double Cranberry Sauce

Use a slightly bigger pot than you think you might need for this recipe–the bubbling can get quite intense and climb high up the sides of the pot in a flash. Adjust the heat as needed to keep it at a nice even simmer and not a fierce boil. I like to use organic citrus here since the entire fruit is zested. I make this sauce several days before Thanksgiving–it keeps great tightly covered and chilled, and tastes best when it has a few days to relax in the refrigerator.

Makes about 4 cups

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 large orange, zested and juiced
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (like Craisins)

Place the cranberries in a large saucepan or other heavy-bottomed pot with the water and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the cranberry skins begin to pop open, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the diced apple, lemon and orange zests and juices, salt and brandy. Continue to simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens and reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dried cranberries. Transfer the sauce to a heatproof bowl or container and let cool a bit before covering and refrigerating, up to 1 week in advance. Serve slightly chilled.

  • I am loving making cranberry sauce from scratch. Really it's not too complicated and it's so dang rewarding. I love your recipe too! Makes me wish Canadian Thanksgiving wasn't already in the past!

  • This looks delicious, but where does the apple come in?

  • Jami–Fixed! Thanks for the note! It goes in with the citrus zest, etc. for the final 15-20 minutes of cooking.

  • Thanks, Shauna! It's actually not too far off from my usual recipe – maybe I will try half/half and see what people say! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I've never made cranberry sauce but that looks great. and i love the simplicity of your blog, by the way!

  • I made this amazing cranberry sauce …and wow… so good and so pretty. We have always used the stuff that splops out of a can so I had no idea how cranberry sauce is supposed to taste. I think I'm going to make more and put it in jars for Christmas gifts.

  • Growing up, my mother always made homemade sauce. (Funny story – I didn't even know that the stuff in a can existed until I was invited to a boyfriend's once as a teenager and was confused/scared when I saw the sludgey-slimey tin-can shaped blob on the table. When I asked what it was, they were appaled that I'd "never seen cranberry sauce before!?" Needless to say, that relationship didn't last.)

    I've been making a homemade cranberry sauce every year for New Year's Eve. My guests are always blown away. I try and kick it up a notch each year – last year, I served it over a wheel of baked brie!

    I absolutely love your use of granny smith apple, I'll have to try it!

    I'll also share with you my secret unusual ingredients : a few drops of hot sauce & a pinch of sea salt. Not enough heat to make it spicy – just enough to give it a little kick! Try it if you dare!

    Thanks for another great post.

  • Lindsey–I love everything you post, thank you!

    Hannah–Thanks and welcome!

    Julie–So glad you loved it. You'll never go back to canned.

    Allison–You just blew my mind.

  • So simple and so fabulous! Tangy, textured, appreciated, and well worth the minimal effort!

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