Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Wishing you, dear reader, a magnificent turkey day...and lots of turkey with all the trimmings.

One of the trimmings is often cranberry sauce. The tart and sweet condiment offsets the mild comfort food flavors of turkey, dressing, mashed and/or sweet potatoes and even the creaminess of the green bean casserole...all fairly traditional Thanksgiving foods.

I grew up with the jellied kind in the can and I still love that version, but this year I had a bag of fresh cranberries, an orange, a cinnamon stick and enough time to make my own sauce.

Because cranberries carry a lot of natural pectin, making a sauce that thickens up without additional gelatin is easy and fairly quick...about 15-20 minutes total. I looked at a number of recipes online, then crafted this one to suit myself. Besides the fresh cranberries and the orange, I used water, brown sugar, and bourbon. It's a great mixture!

Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar and Bourbon
Serves 4-6

1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cinnamon stick
zest of about 1/4 of an orange, zest cut into long strips
additional water as needed

In a saucepan, place the cranberries, brown sugar, water, bourbon, cinnamon stick, and orange zest strips. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat so that mixture simmers. Continue to cook, stirring every minute or so, until the berries begin to pop. Use a wooden spoon or similar tool to both stir the mixture and to push the berries up against the side of the pan to mash them a bit. Continue until most of the berries are mashed, stirring all the while. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and continue to stir and let the berries cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the mixture starts to get thick. Remove the cinnamon stick and the orange zest strips and discard them. Remove the sauce from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add water, a tablespoon at a time until desired thickness. Put into a bowl or storage container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Below is a photo of the sauce with our Thanksgiving meal. Not the best photo because it was taken with an overhead light, not sunlight, but it gives a sense of the meal...which was delicious!

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