cranberry sauce

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find my favorite cranberry sauce recipe. There were recipes that called for lots of orange zest, recipes that demanded ginger in all its forms (candied, fresh, ground), and recipes that glugged in the booze. The recipes were good, sure, but not what I was looking for. So I gave up.

And then it was Christmas day and my husband was taking the cloves out of the ham and I remembered that I needed a cranberry sauce to go with our dinner.

I did the most basic thing possible. I tumbled a bag of frozen cranberries into a saucepan, added a cup of sugar and a cup of liquid (the juice of half an orange and the rest water), and a few scrapes of orange zest. I simmered the berries for 15 minutes or so, spooned the sauce into a serving bowl, and called everyone to the table to eat.

It was perfect, the very cranberry sauce I had been lusting for all this time—classy, simple, and so stinkin’ easy that it made me feel both brilliant and stupid.

Classic Cranberry Sauce
From the November 1999 issue of Gourmet

12-ounce package frozen cranberries, picked over
1 cup sugar
1 cup liquid, a mixture of orange juice and water
½ teaspoon orange zest

Stir everything together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Serve the sauce warm, room temperature, or chilled, keeping in mind the sauce will thicken as it cools.

This same time, years previous: lentil-sausage soup


  • Marie M.

    This is exactly the recipe I used for upteen years. Until. I discovered a new recipe that I like even better. First grate the peel of two Minneola Tangelos (not sure of the spelling) or two oranges. Add the grated peel with the juice from them into blender or food processor. Dump in the cranberries from 12 oz. package. Add one cup of sugar. Blend or process until as chunky or smooth as you like. It has a wonderful fresh taste — I call it cranberry relish and can't get enough of it. Wish you were my neighbor so I could bring you a jar to taste. Congrats on the newspaper column!

  • Jennifer Jo

    Melodie, Thank you! Today was the first day. (The column will run every other week from now on.)

    Margo, I get such a high from learning new things…

  • Melodie Davis

    Congratulations on the new column in the DNR, or did it begin last week (I was out of town). Awesome picture. We will look forward to it!

  • Jennifer Jo

    Anonymous, I can't believe I just now figured it out. I'm in mourning for all those cranberry sauce-less holiday dinners I've made. So sad….

  • Anonymous

    I've made this sauce for years except I use all orange juice as the liquid. It just wouldn't be Christmas (or Thanksgiving) without it. I grate the peel off one orange, juice the orange and add OJ to make one cup of liquid. One cup of sugar, cook and that's it.

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