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Cranberry Orange Sauce

Updated on November 19, 2011
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Delicious and Easy

Makes about four cups or so

Cranberries are fabulous. Of course cranberries of some sort appear on most Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday tables, but by no means feel as though you should reserve this fabulous American fruit for just a couple of times a year. Fresh cranberries begin appearing in most grocery stores as early as October, and they can be used in a host of applications.

Breads, muffins, stuffing for pork and chicken, as part of a filling for turkey or turkey breasts, in accompaniment to roast duck and goose, in compotes and jellies, in drinks and cocktails – well, you get the idea. This berry is full of Vitamin C, and contains healthy doses of antioxidants as well, so feel free to grab a bag and begin experimenting with this great ingredient.

For years I’ve played with variations on a traditional cranberry sauce. My grandmother made one scented with oranges, and often contained pecans or walnuts. It was sweet, but not so sweet that it overwhelmed the lovely tartness of the berries themselves. She served it with turkey of course, but it’s also amazing with roasted or baked ham. If you really want to knock someone’s socks off, then serve this alongside Turducken. This is the sauce that my second son prefers – and yes, I often make more than one variety on holidays. The rest of the fall and winter I work the fruit into as many dishes as I can, and play with lots of combinations of ingredients.

This particular recipe as written makes a nice thick sauce – not a jelly. But I’m including a couple of variations that are easy to incorporate that will tweak the sauce to your taste without altering the terrific flavor in the least. Best of all this can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the fridge tightly covered. Gotta love one less thing to do on the holiday itself!

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The Recipe!

You'll need:

  • 2 pounds cranberries, preferably fresh, but frozen will do in a pinch
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, about two large oranges
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • Juice from the zested oranges, plus enough additional to equal three cups
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cups water
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Optional variations: ½ cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, ½ cup toasted coconut, ¼ cup Southern Comfort (I’ve used each variation, but not all!), ¼ cup cornstarch, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, dark brown sugar in place of the light brown sugar

1. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat, combine first six ingredients, stirring well to combine. Add in one half cup of the water. Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Add salt.

2. At the end of the hour, taste sauce. If you wish it sweeter, then add another cup (or more!) of either white or brown sugar until it achieves the sweetness you prefer.

3. Allow mixture to simmer for about an hour, or until the sauce has thickened and the cranberries have burst.

4. At the end of the hour, taste sauce. If you wish it sweeter, then add another cup (or more!) of either white or brown sugar until it achieves the sweetness you prefer.

5. The sauce will have thickened a good bit. If you like you can continue cooking for another half hour or so until it has reached a consistency you prefer. Alternately, you can make a slurry with the remaining ½ cup of water and the ¼ cup of cornstarch. Add this slurry to the sauce, bring back to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes. This will thicken the sauce additionally, giving it a more jelly like texture, and giving it a very pretty gloss.

6. Alternately, if the sauce is thicker than you like, add just the remaining water, a tablespoon at a time, until thinned to your preference.

7. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point you may stir in any of the optional ingredients – the pecans or walnuts, coconut or vanilla.

8. Allow sauce to cool to nearly room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. All done – that’s all there is to it!

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