I didn't develop this recipe. I don't even know who did. I heard it on the radio one night around Thanksgiving of 1998. The local talk show host on a station that has long since changed formats was lamenting the canned cranberry sauce one usually sees at Thanksgiving. He gave his recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. Who knows where he got it. But it sounded easy, and quick, and something I could handle. I tried it and was astonished at how good such a simple recipe could be. I hope you give it a try. I have not changed the recipe from what I heard on the radio, but I sometimes serve a version where I add a couple of tablespoons of chopped, toasted, walnuts--just for variety. Try it either way. I'm sure you will love it.
one orange, to be used for zest and juice
one lemon, to be used for zest only
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice from the orange
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 ounces of fresh (or frozen if you have to) cranberries
1/8 teaspoon of orange zest
1/8 teaspoon of lemon zest
[Optional: 2 tablespoons of toasted walnuts]
Cut the orange you used for the zest in half, and squeeze 1/2 cup of orange juice from the orange. In my experience, an average orange will get you the 1/2 cup. Measure it. If you are a little light, make up the difference with water or juice another orange to get to the 1/2 cup mark.
Pour the orange juice into a two quart sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan. Add the sugar and salt. Turn on a medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. I recommend you don't use a wooden spoon to stir the dish because the cranberries may stain the wood.
Remove from heat and go through the cranberries, looking for bad ones and stems still attached. Rinse the cranberries and dump them in the sauce pan.
Give everything a couple of stirs and turn on the heat to medium.
Put a lid on the sauce pan, with a tiny gap at one edge for steam to escape.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. The goal is for some of the cranberries to still look like cranberries. Most of them will have cooked down. The longer you cook, the more the sauce will be a uniform texture. I like a rough texture, so you can tell fresh cranberries were used, so I usually remove the pan from the heat at the 12 minute mark. Add the lemon and orange zest after removing the pan from the heat and stir the zest into the sauce. If you want to use the chopped, toasted walnuts, stir them in also.
This dish is ready to serve immediately. It is even better if you make it the day before and refrigerate it until ready to serve. Enjoy.
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