According to my mother-in-law, a good cranberry sauce should have whole cranberries and a nice sauce, so as to not be mushy or dry. I created this cranberry sauce keeping this in mind. It is gently infused with oranges and pungent spices and is slowly baked in the oven. In addition, the alcohol will elevate it to another level that gives an unexpected kick to the sauce. It will go nicely with any savory fall or winter dishes. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving, go ahead and you can try it now!
I really like how this cranberry sauce turned out. Here is my little story… As a foreigner I did not grow up eating cranberries so I have been relying on the Joy of Cooking cookbook for the recipe. I was contemplating whether to make some changes to the basic recipe or just let the cranberries be what they are and enjoy their true taste.
I started experiementing. First, I put the oranges to the test. Why add oranges, another bitter fruit?!? Ok orange peels are bitter but are also sweet. I found that the sweet oranges paired nicely with the sour cranberries. Perhaps because their common denominator is the bitterness ?!?
In the culinary world, it is well known that pungent spices offset the sour flavors so I also added cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice. They bring a little warmth to the sauce, too. In addition, the allspice gave a nice citrusy flavor. They balanced out the sauce nicely and resulted in a pleasant sweet and sour dish. Again, I can’t imagine the sauce without them.
Oh and the sugar! Most recipes use sugar for cranberry sauce; after all it is a sour dish and sweet can offset sourness. I have nothing against sugar if used well in a dish, meaning it does not overpower the foods that it is added to. I am excited to say that I was able to reduce the sugar a bit in this recipe just by adding the seasonings. Not bad ehhh …
There is more! I used to cook the sauce in a pot that yielded a rather mushy appearance. It did not bother me, I did not even realize I did not cook the cranberries properly. To make sure the cranberries stayed whole, my mother-in-law used to prick each berry one by one with a needle so they didn’t burst open in the pot. I have recently learnt from a chef that slowly cooking them in the oven would give very nice results and the berries stay whole. I would like to mention that of course cranberries carefully made in a pot can stay whole as well.
I think my recipe made the cranberries more suitable to eat with savory foods, it has a pleasant flavor without overpowering the cranberries. You can keep it in the refrigerator for at least 3 days. The flavors come together while the sauce sits in the fridge. Hope you will enjoy it! Of course, there are many other techniques to cook cranberries that yield beautiful results too.
Cranberry sauce recipe
Serves 2-3 people.
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries (frozen is fine just make sure they are fully defrosted)
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp dried ginger (cut and sifted) or 2 tsp fresh ginger
- 1 orange (chopped up peel and the juice) Chop up the orange peel into very small pieces it tastes great in the sauce or 2 Tbsp dried orange peel and 1/3 cup of orange juice
- If you don’t have orange juice you can use 1/3 cup of other juices or even water and maybe even a little orange essence
- 1/3 cinnamon stick
- 3 pieces of all spice berries
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 2-6 Tbsp of spirit of your choice: whisky, fruit brandy (optional)
- touch of freshly ground black pepper and salt, to be added at the end
- Wash cranberries, discard any with blemishes. Combine all ingredient in a baking/glass dish and wait until cranberries start releasing their liquid for about a half an hour. Set oven to 250F and slowly bake for about two hours. Cranberries are ready when nicely cooked but not raw or mushy.
- When done take the dish out of the oven and remove the larger spice pieces (cinnamon, allspice).
- Add the salt and the pepper.
- Serve at room temperature.
- You can triple this recipe for Thanksgiving for 9-10 people.
Text, photo and recipe by twincitiesherbs.com