Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ode to Cranberry Sauce

*Sniff, sniff.* Can you smell it yet? The roasting turkey with it's thick, meaty drippings, cooking to succulent juicy perfection...pans of dressing, browning a crunchy top layer with fluffy cubes of seasoned bread baking underneath...steaming corn on the cob, smothered in pats of melting golden butter...a can-shaped gelatinous blob plopped on a plate...wait. What?

Oh, cranberry sauce. What a terribly misunderstood Thanksgiving side dish. Perhaps you enjoy an accompanying slice of jiggling tart with your dinner, but I for one was never brave enough to try such a...delicacy. As a child I was confused by this deep-red colored log; it looked like a giant beet to me, and I knew I didn't like beets. And why was it called cranberry "sauce" when you had to slice it? Do you ordinarily slice sauce? Well, I didn't think so. My cranberry sauce phobia followed me into adulthood. I watched as others would dish some onto their plates and take a bite with a bit of turkey, but I just didn't get the appeal.


And then it happened. Last year. I was asked to bring the cranberry sauce to the Robert family Thanksgiving. Should have been simple, right? Just pick up a can of some genu-wine Ocean Spray sauce and be done with it. But really, I just didn't feel right bringing a cold, unopened can of something to dinner while everyone else carried in corning-ware, bearing cooked and thought-out dishes. So I timidly asked the question, "Um, can I make my own?"

I had never made cranberry sauce before; in fact, I had yet to ever so much as taste it. And I had no idea what it was supposed to look like when not pressed into a cylindrical piece of tin. But by golly, I was determined to avoid bringing the "traditional" sauce for the family to enjoy.

So I did what I usually do in situations such as these, and I turned to my trusty friend the internet where I found a recipe for real cranberry sauce. I was so shocked. Really? Three ingredients? Ten minutes? There was no way it could be so simple. I mean, people go out of their way to buy this stuff in a can...I thought it must be hard to make or something. The night before Thanksgiving I prayed and prayed as I stood over the stove with my hard berries, orange juice, and sugar, just hoping that my recipe wasn't lying and that all of this stuff would turn into something resembling a sauce.

This is a borrowed pic, but I promise, it looks just like this when it's a 'cookin!

I stood over my saucepan stirring the dissolving sugar into the orange juice. So far so good. Then I gingerly poured my bag of cranberries into the juice mixture, stirring every so often. It felt like I was doing a science experiment. My recipe promised that after about ten minutes the berries would start to pop open. Hmm...interesting. As I waited for this magical moment to happen, I added a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg into the mix. By now I was really hoping this recipe would turn out, if only because my kitchen smelled SO GOOD. If this stuff tasted half as good as it smelled then I would be golden.

Suddenly, the first of the berries burst open! And then like kernels of popcorn, cranberries were popping open left and right, releasing their juices and causing my concoction to bubble and thicken and turn that deep, familiar shade of red. I removed my pan from the heat and let it cool down a little before taking the first taste. I dipped in my spoon, brought it cautiously to my lips, and then, *Hallelujah! Hallelujah!* De.Lish.Us!

But I still didn't know if that was the way it was supposed to taste. So I called in my hubby, a man familiar with the canned sauce variety, and he took a taste. With a nod of his head, I knew. I had done it. With a sweet satisfaction, I transferred my sauce into a serving dish and placed it into the refrigerator to cool overnight.

Another borrowed photo, but this is exactly what mine looked like when it was done. I even used a white dish!

Was my sauce a success at Thanksgiving dinner? Oh, yes. It was. Several people who were fans of the can were converted on that day. And no one could believe how easy it was to make. It was as one had ever even bothered to look up the recipe before. I know I certainly hadn't. And while I still haven't sampled the "other" stuff to compare, I don't really feel it's necessary at this point. I have found a new love that will forever find a place on my Thanksgiving plate...right next to the turkey and somewhere near the mashed potatoes and dinner roll.

So...if you didn't catch the recipe, here it is for you to try yourself. And please, please, try it! I cannot stress enough how simple it is. You will be a hit at your family's meal this year, AND you'll get a heavenly scented house for an afternoon - can't beat that!

Cranberry Sauce
12 ounces of cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice
*pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg optional (and highly recommended, hehe)

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes.) Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Enjoy!


joyce said...

So, I have you down for cranberry sauce this year :) And you have made me really want a plate of Thanksgiving goodies now. LOL

Anonymous said...

Adrien & All Who are Reading,
I can vouge for Adrien, the home made cranberry sauce was soooooooooo good. I had never had the honor of tasting truly home made sauce till Adrien brought it to our Thangsgiving Dinner. Thanks for sharing another of your creative ideas.


Anonymous said...

I would like you to know I am about to make this recipe for tomorrow's dinner... thanks for the idea!!


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