Well, it’s 2 days before Thanksgiving. This year my Thanksgiving dinner will be somewhat low-key with my husband and my two kids and some good friends of ours. This afternoon I’ve been trying to put the finishing touches on my menu and I just realized that I almost forgot the cranberry sauce! As a kid I remember not being too fond of cranberry sauce – after all it was a strange jiggly thing that didn’t resemble any fruit or vegetable I’d ever seen – in fact when examined really closely it looked very much like a dark red Jell-O molded into the shape of a can (not very appetizing, if you ask me). It wasn’t until I entered adulthood and started exploring my passion for cooking that I discovered what cranberry sauce really is and should be. What I find to be most amusing is that my childhood experience and memory of cranberry sauce is also shared by many others. I’ve had many guests at my Thanksgiving table who will attempt to kindly pass on the cranberry sauce – dismissing it as something that they simply don’t care for. This always makes me giggle because if I ask them what kind of cranberry sauce they’ve tried, they almost always describe that jiggly red stuff in the shape of a can! After several minutes of convincing them to take a “no thank-you bite” of real cranberry sauce they are almost always pleasantly surprised and often become cranberry sauce converts by the end of the meal.
Not only do I find cranberry sauce to be a wonderful compliment to the turkey and side dishes of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but it is also awesome with pork and chicken. What’s even better is that cranberry is easy to prepare, doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and is naturally gluten-free!
Here’s my favorite cranberry sauce recipe (hope you enjoy and perhaps convert some of your guests to be cranberry sauce lovers this year as well!):
Cranberry Orange Sauce
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon orange juice
12-ounce bag of cranberries, picked through
In a medium saucepan, bring water, orange zest, sugar and salt to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Add the cranberries and orange juice and return mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is slightly thickened and about two-thirds of the berries have popped opened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. (The cranberry sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 7 days; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)
By Chef Jessica Hale (more cranberry sauces from Chef Jessica at www.glutenfreeda.com)