WRITTEN ON November 8th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Fruit, Holiday, Side Dish

There are certain things that distinguish Thanksgiving dinner from just another, well, brown meal.

Clearly, sweet potatoes add a brighter hue.  If you serve greens of any sort, that obviously helps (though if they are smothered in mushroom soup and fried onions it’s kind of hard to see the green).  But let’s face it: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy…you get the point.  Color is sometimes lacking.

Enter cranberry sauce.  Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, but it’s chock full of health benefits and incredibly simple to make from scratch.  It’s pretty much the cool aunt that arrives in the nick of time to save you from an embarrassing game of 20 questions about your new boyfriend at the dinner table (not that I know anything about that).

I like to call this one Jack ‘n’ Cran.  With just a hint of Jack Daniels (or any other type of whiskey), it’s full of flavor and spices.  The ingredient list seems long, I know, but there is absolutely no chopping, very little prep, and it’s all done and cooling in a matter of about 15 minutes.  It’s also tasty without the turkey.  Stir it into morning oatmeal, dollop it atop pancakes or vanilla ice cream, use it in place of jam, or try it on a ham sandwich with a little Dijon.  Make it a few days ahead of the meal and feel good about yourself for being so on top of things.  I promise, once you go Jack, you’ll never go back…

The redder, the better

The redder, the better

Jack ‘n Cran
12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp currants
3 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp Jack Daniels
¼ cup water
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
6 cloves
6 peppercorns
½ cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt
Juice of ½ an orange
Special equipment: cheesecloth, kitchen string
Combine cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen string (like a little sack). Combine all ingredients except for orange juice in a heavy pot, bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer, about 10 minutes, until sauce is thickened but some cranberries are still whole. At last minute, pour in orange juice, simmer 1 minute more.  Chill in fridge, leaving cheesecloth in, overnight. Will keep for a week.

Bogged down

Bogged down

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