I’m a cranberry sauce convert! In all of my 38 years, I have never put cranberry sauce on my plate at Thanksgiving dinner. Even though my Aunt always made a homemade variety, it just looked so jelly-ish to me. And I’m not big on sweet stuff on my meats. Thanksgiving dinner, in general, has never been my favorite meal — too bland for my spice loving taste buds. But I am coming around to appreciate it for what it is — classic, homey, warm, comforting flavors. That said, when someone gives me a Thanksgiving dish assignment, I like to try to make it with a little of my own flair.
I was assigned cranberry sauce and stuffing this year for the Barger family Thanksgiving. Stuffing was easy — I love sour dough bread so I went with a sourdough bread, mushroom and herb stuffing. For the cranberry sauce, I was really treading on unfamiliar ground. I got to thinking about about how nice fresh ginger would taste cooked into the cranberries so I found a few recipe options that included ginger. And then, at my cooking class, the week prior to Thanksgiving, Chef Tricia asked if we had any questions or needed any Thanksgiving tips or ideas. I thought I’d double check with my intuition to use fresh ginger and not only did she agree that it would be great, she brought me a sample of her own Cranberry Relish that she was demo’ing in a class the next day. It was fantastic! The cooked orange peel really made it bright and fresh. She graciously offered the recipe to us and so I went about adapting it slightly to my own tastes (and my desire to add fresh ginger).
I was so excited about the flavors that came together in this cranberry sauce. It was easy to make and I was able to do it ahead of time. I was happy to have leftovers to use for other purposes throughout the holiday season. So, although I’m late in posting this classic Thanksgiving sauce, it is still quite useful for your Christmas and New Year’s dinners and parties.
Orange Cranberry Sauce (Serves 10-14)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (purchase 3 medium-large oranges)
8 cups (2 12 oz packages) cranberries, divided
4 tsp thin julienne strips of orange peel
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cold water
Combine the sugar with the orange juice in a large, heavy sauce pan. Place over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add 6 cups of the cranberries, the orange peel, fresh ginger, and cinnamon. Cook, string until the cranberries pop, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the cold water. Stir the cornstarch mixture and the remaining 2 cups of cranberries into the cooked berries. Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring until the mixture has thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and will make a great addition to any cheese plate or on top of a wheel of brie (I swirled it through a small ramekin of baked brie the other day — delicious!). I’ve read that some people even like to mix it with boiling water to make a cranberry orange tea.
Adapted from Cranberry Relish from Tricia Wheeler of The Seasoned Farmhouse.