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.
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.