I feel like a failure for not getting this posted before Thanksgiving. Of course, I didn't actually make up the recipe until I was making cranberry sauce the day before we all sat down to eat. I suppose there are a lot of folks out there who do another round of traditional feasting for Christmas. Additionally, this version of cranberry sauce may just alter your thinking about it only being a once or twice a year dish.
I have always felt that store bought cranberry sauce was a little blasé. Well, that goes without saying... I am all about cooking from scratch, after all. Unfortunately, I always felt freshly made cranberry sauce had an astringent quality to it I didn't quite care for. I noticed early on that when I canned my own cranberry sauce, I really only started enjoying it after it had been sitting on the shelf for a few months.
With that in mind, I started playing with ways to balance the cranberry's natural tannins. Citrus became my go-to ingredient for many years. This year, I wanted to try something a little different, so I decided to add some apples and spice. What a wonderful decision! This is, hands down, the best cranberry sauce I've ever eaten. Apparently, my mom agrees, since we practically started duking it out over who would get to eat most of it. Even if you're not a big fan of traditional cranberry sauces, I urge you to give this one a try.
You can start with fresh or frozen berries. I found this bag in the deep, dark recesses of my freezer. To be honest, I'm not really sure what year I bought those berries. Fortunately, since we were going to cook them, it didn't really matter. There are four main flavors in this sauce: cranberry, orange, apple, and fall spices. You want to start with the cranberry and orange. In a sauce pan, mix the berries, orange juice, zest, sugar, and water and bring to a simmer.
Once the cranberries have started to pop, add the peeled, diced apple and orange segments. Simmer over medium low heat until the apples are tender and then add the spice mixture. Let simmer five minutes and then remove from the heat and cool slightly before decanting into a pretty bowl, covering with plastic wrap, and chilling in the refrigerator.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Yield: 2-3 cups
1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 orange, zested, sectioned, and juiced
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp spice mix (mix 1/4 tsp of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves)
1 TBS brandy (optional)
In a sauce pan, bring the cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the berries start to pop, about 5-10 minutes. Add the apple and orange sections (cut out so that you do not end up with the membrane) and cook over medium low heat until the apple is tender. Stir periodically to ensure the mixture does not scorch on the bottom.
When the apple is tender, mix together 1/4 teaspoon of the following dried spices: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Then use 1/4 teaspoon of that mixture to spice to sauce. You can save the remaining mixture for later or discard it. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes before removing from the heat, cooling, and decanting into a bowl to refrigerate before serving.
NOTES: This sauce is quite delicious warm and you could very easily serve it right after removing it from the heat. Also, it would be wonderful with some currents or raisins. If you decide to add them, be sure to put them in when you put in the apples so that they can soften.