The first time that my now-husband spent Thanksgiving with my family, I asked him a few days before what dish he really liked out of the whole meal. His response was, “Oh, I really like cranberry sauce!” I asked him who in his family made it, so I could get their recipe, make him feel more at home. And then, my dear husband says, “No… like the jellied one… in the can!” So I was kind of off the hook on the cranberry sauce thing. That year I had the jellied cranberry sauce for the first time. Not bad. Not bad at all.
We were never big on cranberry sauce in my family. My grandma used to make a cranberry relish that, while pretty tasty, was a little intense for my as-of-yet-kid-style palate. To be honest, I think my grandma was the only one who really truly liked it enough to make it every year. Yummy, but kind of potent stuff.
So once again, Thanksgiving week has rolled around, and we’re pulling out all the old classics. But sometimes new classics are a good thing. Like switching up the green bean casserole or making a pumpkin pie that’s got a little extra something hiding between the crust and custard. So I figured this year, I’ll switch up the cranberries. Why not?
This recipe for cranberry sauce is about as simple as it gets. Which is kind of why I like it. You can make it how it is, and it’s the perfect balance between sweet and tart, and it tastes… get this… like cranberries! You could also use it as the base for something a little more adventurous. A splash of Cointreau would be lovely, or adding some bits of chopped apple along with the cranberries can give you a little milder, sweeter sauce. A little cinnamon and nutmeg might be festive. But really, just on its own, this sauce is pretty fantastic, too. Whether your family goes in for cranberry sauce, jellied-in-a-can, or a tart relish, this version won’t disappoint.
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
In a medium saucepan, stir brown sugar into orange juice over medium heat. Once the brown sugar is dissolved, stir in the cranberries. Continue to cook the cranberries for about 5 minutes. You will hear popping noises as the cranberries begin to burst. Take the sauce off the heat once the popping has stopped and it has bubbled away for another minute or two.
Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and refrigerate for an hour or two, or until the sauce if thick and cool. Serve cool or at room temperature.