For years, when we had Thanksgiving dinners, we would eat turkey with gravy or that cranberry jelly that comes from a can. Often, there would be an extra jelly can that wasn't consumed on Thanksgiving and ended up sitting in the kitchen closet for months. There was always something about this cranberry jelly that I didn't like, even though I can't remember ever actually trying it. (Anyone else do that? Decide that they don't like a food without even trying it first?) Anyway, this over-processed cranberry sauce never appealed to me.
Last year, on Thanksgiving I finally made my own cranberry sauce that is far better than the canned variety. The sauce combines fresh cranberries and mandarine oranges and is such a simple recipe to master. You do not need to spend a lot of time or energy preparing this sauce. The recipe below is just a guideline because there will probably be some adjustments made along the way. I remember when I made it last year, the outer shell of the cranberries did not break on their own and I had to use a spoon to mash them. However, this time, they came apart on their own. Depending on the cranberries, they may need more or less time to soften than my experience. And of course, the amount of sugar needed will depend on your personal taste.
I think this is such a delicious sauce, that would be great on meat and even on a dessert like plain cheesecake!
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1/3 cup water
1 can of mandarine oranges, drained of liquid
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
1. In a small pot or saucepan, combine the cranberries, cinnamon stick, and water and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. The cranberries should be beginning to soften at this point and before adding the other ingredients. Stir occasionally and add more water if the cranberries are sticking to the pot.
2. Add the oranges and lemon juice. Sweeten with the desired amount of sugar and add walnuts if desired. Continue simmering until the cranberries are completely softened and the outer shell has broken apart. This may take an extra 10-15 minutes, depending on the cranberries.
3. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve with meat or with a dessert.