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I grew up eating cranberry sauce only once or twice a year.  In fact, I thought it was available in stores only during the holidays so when I discovered that it could be purchased and eaten year-round, I became a bit of a cranberry sauce fanatic, eating it nearly every day for a couple of years.  Ocean Spray, of course.

But then I encountered the cheery little berries in their pre-gelled state and tried out the extremely simple recipe on the side of the bag.  There was no going back.  Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe a bit, but the sauce is still ridiculously easy to make and truly festive.  It’s the perfect astringent accompaniment to the carb-fest that is the traditional Thanksgiving meal.  It also provides a bit of a color on the plate, a small jewel among all that beige food.

This cranberry sauce is highly addictive, if I may say so myself.  It’s my favorite part of the holiday meal, the only part of it that I cannot imagine changing or leaving off of the menu.

I’m not sure how much of the alcohol cooks out of the sauce, so I try to limit Mimi’s consumption, for obvious reasons.  She’s none too happy about it and who can blame her?  Still, a little bit is better than none.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Sauce

1 scant cup sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

1 cinnamon stick

a pinch of salt

1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

1 tsp. orange peel

2 tbs. Grand Marnier

Bring the orange juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, and salt to a boil in a large, heavy sauce pan.  Add the cranberries and simmer on medium heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  The cranberries will pop and thicken the sauce.  Test for thickness.  If you prefer a thicker sauce, let it simmer for an additional five minutes or so.  Remove from heat.  Add the orange peel and Grand Marnier.  Stir and allow to cool.  Transfer to a covered class container and continue to cool.  Refrigerate for up to three days.

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