As I’ve said in a previous post, I have been doing Thanksgiving forever it seems. In what also felt like ‘forever’, I used to subscribe to Martha Stewart, and read her magazines every month. Along with Fine Cooking & Cooks Illustrated, a few years back I began to feel overwhelmed, and so ditched the Stewart subscription and haven’t regretted it since. I love my Fine Cooking (I have all issues dated back to the very first) and Cooks Illustrated, and rely on them solely (along with the web & my cookbook library) for inspiration and education.
Still, I found some real gems in my years of Miss Martha, and this cranberry sauce ever was a definite diamond among the coal.
I ripped the page out when I tossed all the issues, but it doesn’t have the date, nor the issue, so I cannot give proper credit, except that I got it out of a Martha Stewart magazine. One that featured Thanksgiving.
I made this that first year and have honestly never been tempted to try another version since. It is not too sweet, not to tart, has a lovely, complex spice and just a hint of heat. I make this in a double batch because people actually eat it, (unlike the canned ‘stuff’) and it is amazing on a leftover turkey sandwich. Simply. Amazing.
I apologize in advance for not having a display photo. My empty nesting has caught up with me, and I’m a little out of sorts. Normally, I am planning weeks in advance. But, without the kids home to help fix time in place, I’m a little behind. It also appears last year (when I started my musings), I didn’t think to take a pretty picture, so I am going from a photo from two years ago. The above picture is the cooked sauce, sitting in the saucepan. While a gorgeous, staged photo helps draw attention, the lack of shouldn’t stop you from giving this a whirl. This sauce will be competing with your turkey for a starring role.
Best Ever Cranberry Sauce
2 C Fresh Cranberries, cleaned, picked over. (should be about 1 bag, exact measuring is not necessary)
3 tbsp Cognac (what the heck, make them generous tablespoons!)
1 C Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 C Fresh Orange Juice
3 whole Allspice
2 whole Cloves
4 Black Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Red-Pepper Flake (Make sure your pepper is fresh. If it’s not red in color, but brown, it’s old.)
Cinnamon Stick (about a 1/2 inch piece)
Cheesecloth & twine to make a spice bag
(Note: I double this recipe, be sure to double your spices as well)
In your saucepan combine the berries, cognac, sugar and juice. Lay a square of cheesecloth on the counter, add your spices to the center, gather up the edges and tie with cooking twine, leaving some string to hang it with. Nestle it in with your other ingredients in the pot, trying to keep it submerged the whole time. You can use a spoon to poke it down until the bag is saturated. I wrap the excess twine around the pot handle a couple of times and loop the end through the hole at the end of my pot (my pot handle has a hole on the end) to keep it in place and away from the flame. (no one wants a visit from the fire department prior to the holidays!)
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cook it at a simmer for about 20 minutes. (The berries will turn translucent) Turn off heat, and let cool. You may remove the spice bag now, or leave it in to allow the flavors of the spices to really bloom. Just know, it WILL get more spicy.
When cool enough to handle, wring the bag of all the juices you can. I really like to extract as much flavor as possible. Stir to combine. Toss the bag, and you’re ready to serve.
I make this at least a day in advance, although you can make it the day of and serve warm. I just prefer to let the flavors marry and get all happy. Then the day of Thanksgiving (or whenever, this is too good to save for only one day a year) bring back to room temperature before serving.
If you give this a try, let me know how your family liked it!
(**yay! I figured out how to eliminate the breaks in the recipe, so no more spaces in-between ingredients!!!! I am not the most tech savvy, but I do know how to cook! )