Thanksgiving is FINALLY almost here! I am SO. excited. It is by far my favorite holiday. You don’t have to worry about buying gifts, like Christmas. It’s not underwhelming every year like New Year’s, always weighed down with too-high expectations about how awesome the next day will be. It’s not a weekend-long who-can-dress-the-skankiest contest like Halloween. It’s TWO WHOLE DAYS off of work, not just one, like all of the other holidays.
No ma’am. Thanksgiving is pure, unadulterated family and food time. Turkey. Family game night, with the ENTIRE family. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Green jello. (Yes. Pineapple chunks, cream cheese, and all. I won’t judge your marshmallows if you don’t judge my green jello.) Cribbage for days. Pie. Terrifically bad jokes. And cranberries, which are probably a solid 70% of the reason I attend Thanksgiving at all. No joke. It really doesn’t get better that the wonderful mess that is Thanksgiving.
BUT. It does. Because this is the first Thanksgiving I will be spending with my family since 2009 – that’s what happens when college is 1200 miles away – and I can’t WAIT. I already made a batch of this sauce and ate it all by myself over a few days, just to get myself even more pumped for the whole thing. If you don’t have a cranberry sauce recipe or you prefer the canned stuff – if that’s you you’re really missing out – I’ve got you covered. This stuff is easy. It dirties one pot. And it’s BETTER made a day or two ahead. So make it now.
I know I’m a little late to the Thanksgiving recipe bandwagon in blogland, and I’m sure you’ve seen the beautiful spreads at Smitten Kitchen, Crepes of Wrath, Shutterbean, and Spoon Fork Bacon. But seriously. These cranberries take 15 minutes and they are so worth it. An easy add to your menu that will take it to the next level. Or your Christmas menu if you can wait that long. Plus, they’re the perfect condiment for your leftover turkey-potato-stuffing sandwich. Promise.
We start (and end!) with cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and sugar. You can totally use sugar-free sweetener, too.
OJ (of the non-Simpson variety (Awful joke, I apologize.)) and sugar get boiled. Cranberries get tossed in.
The cranberries get cooked for a few minutes until they pop. Technical term right there. You’ll hear the pops. And see how some of them are split apart a little? You’re doin’ it right.
It’ll get a little foamy. Skim the foam off with a spoon and put it aside.
Finally, we add the orange zest! Zest zest zest. (Can you tell I’m excited?)
Then put it in a bowl, put the bowl in the fridge, and you are done. Thanksgiving level 75000.
Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce
I’d double it if you’ve got a big group and you want leftovers. And you definitely want leftovers.
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 3-4 large, soft navel oranges (you can substitute up to 1/2 cup of orange juice for water, but all-OJ is way better)
1 cup sugar (or sweetener)
1 12-oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
zest of 2 oranges
Zest two of the oranges. Juice the oranges until you have 1 cup of orange juice. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the orange juice and sugar. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium, add in the cranberries, and cook until they all pop, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a spoon. Stir in the orange zest. Transfer to a bowl (it looks really nice in a glass/crystal one), cover, and chill for several hours or overnight. It’s better the second day, after the flavors have had time to blend.