For years, I was a fanatic of store-bought, canned, cranberry sauce. The more it was shaped like a can, the better. I tried whole-berry sauce on Thanksgiving when I was about 8 years old and knew that it wasn't for me. Not surprisingly, I've come along way since 1993.
I never realized this before, but homemade cranberry sauce is incredibly easy and simple. I made it last weekend for Friendsgiving before heading to Connecticut for real Thanksgiving, and it was a hit. Of course, I don't have a single picture of the actual event to share with you, because I was so busy running around getting dinner ready for 13 people. Dinner itself was great - we had a fire in my new fireplace and everyone chipped in with some really phenomenal dishes. We really outdid ourselves, if I do say so myself.
Luckily, I was able to capture a few snapshots of the actual cooking process though, so here we go:
First, rinse one bag of cranberries in a colander. As you're rinsing, pick through them and discard any that are gross. You know, mushy, wrinkly, discolored. Drain the good ones and set them aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly (sugar burns easily!). Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the cranberries.
Simmer the cranberries for 10 - 12 minutes, until all the cranberries have popped. You can actually hear and see them splitting! I highly recommend an apron at this point, and maybe wear an oven mitt on your stirring hand. Exploding cranberries are hot.
The cranberries will split, get all foamy, and then become a nice sauce. Once you have achieved a thick, smooth mixture, remove it from the heat. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken as it cools, so it's OK if it's a little on the watery side. Stir in the orange zest. Pour it all into a pretty bowl and let it cool. Serve it at room temperature.
Simple Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Gourmet, November 1999
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1. Thoroughly rinse, drain, and pick over the cranberries. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the cranberries and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes, or until all of the cranberries have popped, forming a smooth, red sauce. Stir in the orange zest.
Serve at room temperature, or chill for a more gelatinous sauce.