So I know the Thanksgiving meal is probably set in stone at this point, but we need to talk. This is about more than Thanksgiving. It's about cranberry sauce.
I feel bad for cranberry sauce. It's like the ugly stepchild of Thanksgiving foods, shoved into a can then plopped into a bowl at the holidays only to be neglected in favor of gravy and butter.
It's just that it doesn't have to be this way. Fresh cranberry sauce is a thing of beauty!
Part of what I love about the holidays is that everyone has self-designated specialties. Dad handles most meat cookings and sauces. Mom handles stuffing and taters. Dale's got the brussels. Over the years, mine has become dessert (surprise, surprise). And at Thanksgiving, that means pumpkin pie and pecan pie and, well, pie. But what that also means, I've decided, is homemade cranberry sauce. Mainly because I just freaking love it. On every part of the holiday meal. It gives everything the perfect tang and sweetness, which, let's be honest, is often missing from things like turkey and stuffing.
This cranberry sauce is sorta something to call home about. There's a whole dang vanilla bean in there y'all! And fresh orange juice! And a heaping spoonful of cardamom! (Cardamom is never a bad thing. Never.) This cranberry sauce is deserving of year-round praise. Although it is especially appropriate at these times what with the season and all.
And you could have some the morning after Thanksgiving dolloped on a Butternut Squash Muffin. You could even plop it in a jar and can it up for keeping. If nothing else, you can remember this come Chrismukkah season when the holiday meal reemerges. Just sayin'. Happy Thanksgiving!
Cranberry Sauce (with vanilla bean and cardamom)
This recipe makes quite a bit of cranberry sauce (almost three pints), which is fantastic when feeding tons of people or when you are a cranberry sauce fanatic like myself. If neither of those things apply to you, this recipe can easily be halved.
24 oz. fresh cranberries
450 g (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
420 ml (1 3/4 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice
zest from 2 large oranges
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp. cardamom (feel free to add more to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (optional)
In a large pot, stir cranberries, sugar, and orange juice and zest to combine. Place over medium-high heat. Add vanilla bean pod and seeds, cardamom, and cloves. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and continue to cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. At this point, give it a little taste and adjust spices/sweetness as necessary.
Remove from heat and let cool in the pot for about 20 minutes. Transfer to jars or a serving bowl. Slather on turkey, dressing, and the like. Take a nap.
See, a whole dang 'nilla bean in there!