WASHINGTON, November 20, 2014 — Last year, I happened to be shopping a couple of days after Thanksgiving when I discovered fresh cranberries were on sale for 25 cents per pound. Having never made cranberry sauce, it seemed like a good time to try. After I discovered how simple and tasty my impromptu recipe for cranberry-orange sauce, I had to go back and buy another eight bags. In fact, the cranberry-orange sauce was so delicious that I plan on making it again for Thanksgiving, even if I have to pay full price for cranberries.
2 to 3 pounds of fresh cranberries
One or two orange(s) for the zest and juice
Approximately 1 to 1 ½ Cup(s) of Sugar
Here is how I did it:
Acting like you know what you are doing, even though you have never made cranberry sauce before or anything with fresh cranberries for that matter, add half of two to three pounds of cranberries to a slightly preheated pot in accordance with good cooking technique. The pot should be at least twice the volume as the volume of the cranberries while the burner should be on medium heat.
Cook half the cranberries to the point they start to pop and release their juice then add the rest of the cranberries. Once the majority of the cranberries have split open, add one cup of sugar per two pounds of cranberries, unless you want it sweeter. Add the juice of an orange. Turn the burner down to a setting comfortable to you; somewhere around low-medium is ideal.
(Hint: if the cranberries start sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, even though you have been stirring regularly as you should be, add the juice of half of an orange or some other liquid to deglaze the pan. If things really get out of hand, you can always remove the pan from the burner.)
Because you pre-read this recipe, you can now add up to the entire zest of that orange you just juiced. If you do not have a zester, use a vegetable peeler in a sawing motion to remove just the orange-part of the unpeeled orange peel, with as little white as possible, then chop it finely. Alternatively, use a grater. Just remember, the more zest you add, the more “orangey” your concoction will taste. A quarter of an orange’s zest would probably meet most people’s expectations. That said, freezing the sauce will lessen the intensity of the flavors, so use a good amount of zest if you want to freeze your sauce.
Add a pinch of salt to counterbalance the sweet and tart elements. It will bring out the favors of the sauce by forcing your tongue to focus on what is there instead of what is not.
Cook until the sugar is probably dissolved. Mash the fruit as the sauce finishes cooking.
Optional: puree your jelly. You can also filter the sauce with a sieve if you have “texture issues” or picky children. If you have a food mill, you can obviously use it.
Add pectin according to the manufactures instructions, if you want to jelly your already thick sauce. Don’t forget to bloom the pectin in some warm water or juice.
You can eat your cranberry-orange sauce alone or use it as a base for something like cranberry-orange muffins. It would also make a really great garnish for a venison fillet. It would work with pork and turkey as well. Feel free to add some maple syrup and use the sauce on pancakes. This sauce, pancakes, eggs, and maple syrup could also be paired with some smoky bacon, or ham, to make an awesome breakfast sandwich. The smokiness would definitely add another missing element to your taste puzzle.