People. Whatever you do.
Do NOT. Buy.
CANNED CRANBERRY SAUCE.
I will find you in your dreams and smash the can into your head.
It will be awesome.
Maybe I’m being a food elitist, but that jelly-like cylinder is an insult to cranberries and an insult to the rest of the food on your plate. It’s mostly sugar, and usually corn syrup at that. You can’t even taste cranberry in there. I guess the non-jelly versions are slightly better, since you can actually see some berries. Nonetheless, there is really no reason not to make your own cranberry sauce. It’s stupidly easy, and while it cooks, you can take care of other Thanksgiving preparations.
Wino’s Cranberry Sauce
1 12-oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
a bottle of wine*
1 tsp orange zest
agave nectar, honey, or sugar to taste
*You can pretty much use whatever wine you’re into, although I recommend something on the sweet side. I went with a White Zinfandel (especially since I know I won’t drink it on its own– too sweet for me). If you were to use a drier, more robust wine like a Cabernet, you’ll probably need more sweetener. You can even go with a dessert wine like Port, Sherry, or Marsala.
To make the saucy sauce: put the cranberries in a medium saucepan, and pour enough booze to just about cover them.
Then bring that to medium-high heat. Either sit back and chill, or start on your mashed potatoes. Stir occasionally.
Basically, you’re just gonna let the heat reduce the wine down. As the alcohol evaporates, the cranberries will be left to mingle with the wine’s natural sugars. And yes, the cranberries should pop as they cook. As the sauce reduces, lower the heat so it doesn’t burn. Once the berries are cooked down and ruby red, taste them. It will be sour of course, but this is where you start gauging how much sweetener you want to add. I just drizzled in agave until it was still a little tart (I probably used about a third of a cup of agave). Also add the orange zest at this point. Cook over low heat for a few minutes. If you use regular sugar, make sure it dissolves completely. The whole process should take no more than an hour.
Now THIS is cranberry sauce. Luscious color, fresh flavor. It actually tastes like cranberries, which nature intended to be tart, not syrupy sweet. Plus, you get the subtleties of whatever wine you used. This recipe makes about the same amount you would get from a can. If you have or make extra, this sauce will be great with cheese plates, paired with chocolate, spread on toast, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Or just eating by the spoon. You know me.
And of course, I can’t resist putting up this video…