There are many debates that could happen around a holiday family dinner table, but the only argument that matters is this: When it comes to cranberry sauce, is a berry-laden homemade dish fresh from the stovetop best? Or is the gelatinous plop from a ridged aluminum can the ultimate form?
Old-school purists may make a Lincoln-Douglas-style pontification for the latter, while those who prefer a little more elegance will posit that a homemade version is the better choice. Both have their merits, and the utility of the canned stuff is hard to argue against. However, once you sample the lush flavors of homemade cranberry sauce (and realize that it can be made well in advance of serving), it’s hard to go back to the store-bought version.
Fundamentally, cranberry sauce is a jam made of cranberries and sugar. The sweet-tart combination is a classic pairing with roast turkey and also accentuates the flavors of a variety of vegetables, including winter squash, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.
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This recipe relies on a small amount of cardamom for a slightly peppery, floral accent — just enough to be distinctive without overwhelming the other ingredients.
Flexible by design, the recipe can be doubled easily and allows for the addition or subtraction of ingredients to suit your taste.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Orange
Yields: about 2 cups
- 1 bag (12 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed (stems and bad berries discarded)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Grated zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 tsp packed)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
In a 3-quart saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, zest, orange juice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop open and sugar has dissolved.
Reduce heat to low, cover saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until cranberries have popped and softened and sauce has become thick and ruby-red. Serve warm or chilled. Can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated, or can be made up to a month in advance and frozen. To freeze, pour sauce into a self-sealing plastic bag and press out as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.