Cranberries before you know it
I love Thanksgiving. It’s probably my favorite holiday of the year. I love that when it comes down to it, it’s really an entire holiday devoted to food. Yes, yes, there’s a bigger meaning, and it’s great to sit down and figure out what you’re thankful for, and blah, blah, blah, but the celebration itself is all about preparing and enjoying a great meal with people who are important to you. That’s something that I’m thankful for every year.
Turkey, potatoes, pie, stuffing, it’s all great, but I want to talk today about the unsung hero of Thanksgiving dinner, cranberry sauce. It’s really the perfect complement to white meat. Save the gravy for your potatoes and dressing (mmmmm, dressing. . .), heck, a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich is probably the perfect way to spice up those leftovers. (I’m also frightfully fond of leftovers, but that’s another column.)
I’ve gotten the impression over the years that many people don’t share my enthusiasm for cranberry sauce, so in the hope of reaching out to those who have only ever had the opportunity to try a can-shaped glob of red, um, cranberry-ish gunk, I want to share my incredibly simple family recipe for cranberry sauce.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries
- 1 apple (pink lady or northern spy are good)
- 1 pat of butter
That’s it. Gathered together on the counter, they look something like this:
Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. It’ll start off looking like this:
And you’re ready when it looks like this:
Cube the apple, and add the cranberries, apple, and butter to the pot.
Raise the heat to high, and boil for a minute and a half. That’s right, just a minute and a half. You’ll be able to hear the cranberries popping.
After ninety seconds, turn off the burner and let the sauce cool completely. It’ll look a bit watery, but the pectin released from the cranberries will thicken the mixture into red, tart gloriousness. The end result will be more of a jelly than jell-o, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll never look back.
The secret is the apples. As the sauce thickens, they’ll turn beet red, but they stay crisp even after days in the refrigerator. (The sauce is good in the refrigerator for at least a week. I’ve never had any left after that.)
Some quick Twitter research put savory cranberry sauces on my radar — vinegar! horseradish! the possibilities are endless! — but I have a bit more testing to do before I can write about that. Good thing cranberries are on sale, and are so freezer-friendly.
Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.