Remember that Simpsons episode where Bart asks Marge if he can help make Thanksgiving dinner? And Marge tells him he can help with the cranberry sauce? When Bart asks her how to make the cranberry sauce, she gives him a can and a can-opener. He then proceeds to slowly dump the cranberry sauce – “GLOOOPPPP” and “THUNK” – onto a plate, in its lovely cylindrical shape. That’s it.
Is that what your cranberry sauce is going to look like this year? I have nothing against canned cranberry sauce, except that it’s so darn unsightly, in its tubular gelatinous form. And when cranberry sauce is THIS easy to make, well, why not go ahead and make it?
I was standing in the grocery store checkout line when I found myself staring at jars of apple-cranberry pie filling. What a great idea! I immediately rushed to find the fresh cranberries, while the girl at the checkout counter magically managed to fit all of my groceries into one single reusable bag. Dang that thing was heavy!
Anyway, I got home and made the cranberry sauce first (the cranberry-apple pie is coming in a future post). It was also a good way for me to test the recipe, since Chris’ parents and grandparents are coming here for Thanksgiving this year and I would like everything to go swimmingly, thank you very much.
This cranberry sauce literally took me all of 15 minutes to make. Seriously. The recipe said 20, but my sauce came together and thickened so fast it didn’t even take that long. I love that it is sweetened with honey, one of nature’s healthiest sweeteners. I also love how short the ingredient list is. In fact, I shortened it even further. I didn’t have pure cranberry juice so I just used freshly-squeezed lemon juice instead of cranberry and orange juice, which worked just fine.
Alton Brown’s Cranberry Sauce
1 pound fresh cranberries
¼ cup pure cranberry juice (or freshly squeezed lemon juice)
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup honey
1. In a saucepan, combine the juices and honey. Bring liquid up to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the cranberries, keeping liquid at a simmer.
2. Cranberries will swiftly begin to pop (make sure you’re wearing an apron or your not so favorite clothes). Stir frequently until sauce thickens, about 5-10 minutes more. Don’t stew the berries too long, or the pectin will break down and stop thickening the sauce. Cool for a few minutes.
3. Once you refrigerate the sauce, it will gelatinize until firm, so you could pour it into a mold of some sort before chilling it. Or, you could just put it in a bowl, and heat it gently until it liquifies a bit before serving it with your turkey.
You could of course jazz up this basic recipe a bit. Throw in a cinnamon stick, or a vanilla bean, or some orange peel…whatever! I’m sure it’ll be delicious.