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