So, you say you don’t like cranberry sauce? You think it’s just a strange, ridged, gelatinous cylinder that jiggles and slurps out of some old tin can? Or, maybe you think it’s bitter, and sour, and doesn’t deserve your precious holiday-plate real estate. Well, my friend, I’m here to gently inform you that you’re misinformed and missing out. Real, homemade cranberry sauce is not too tart, not too sweet, and adds a special zing to many of your favorite festive foods, from that carefully roasted turkey or glazed ham, right down to those yeasty dinner rolls you almost burned in the last minute before sitting at the table. I’ve made many a cranberry-sauce convert with my special recipe, and (lucky you), I’m going to share it with the world. Whether you’re a cranberry comrade or a cranberry critic, this beautiful dish is sure to earn its place on your holiday table.
Here’s what you’ll need (to make about 3 cups of sauce):
- 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
- 1 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. orange juice
- 1/4 c. dried apricots, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 10 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
- Zest and juice from one lemon (my favorite zester)
- Zest and juice from one orange or tangerine
- Pinch of nutmeg
First, rinse the cranberries and pick out any that are mushy or bruised. Next, in a medium saucepan, add the orange juice and sugar and cook on a medium-high heat until boiling.
While you’re waiting for the boil, prepare the apricots, citrus zest and juices, and add them to the pot. Once you’ve drained the mandarins, you want to break them up a little before adding them to the pot. To do this, I just pour some in my hand over the pot and squeeze them to break them into smaller pieces. It’s fun and effective.
Now that everything is in the pot and it has come to a boil, dump in the whole cranberries. I always love this part, because, after a few minutes in the boiling citrus syrup, they start to make delightful little “pop” sounds as they burst open. Allow the sauce to boil for about 5 minutes, being sure to watch for boil-overs.
Turn the heat down to low, add the nutmeg, and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste it (carefully—it’s like hot lava right now) and add a little more sugar to taste if you find it a bit too tart. Remove from the heat, pour into a glass bowl and allow to chill thoroughly in the refrigerator before serving. Smear your homemade cranberry sauce on turkey, ham, pork roast, or your breakfast biscuit and reflect on the many, sad years you’ve deprived yourself and your loved ones of this unique, beautiful, and versatile condiment.