You either like it or you don’t. You either eat the gelatinous preformed cranberry sauce out of a can, or you eat the tangy, zesty, fresh cranberry sauce of your youth. I fit into the latter category, but I was once an out-of-the-can only kind-of-girl.
Growing up, mom made a chunky cranberry sauce every year during Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had a special small cut glass bowl that she used every year to serve it in, too. She’d place that sauce on the table with a flourish. I knew it her cranberry sauce was something special.
As much as I loved all the attention she gave that sauce. As much as I liked the splash of color on the otherwise neutral-colored foods on the table, I’d wrinkle my nose to her “just try a little bit,” words of encouragement. My immature teenage self of the 60s and 70s couldn’t understand why anybody would eat the rind of an orange and lemon, let alone a tart, lip puckering concoction. Instead, I’d plop a slab of canned cranberries on my plate and watch with interest to see who ate from the glass bowl.
It would be decades before I discovered my love for the chunky, tart cranberry sauce. And even though this isn’t mom’s recipe and my husband wrinkles his nose to my Kentucky-style concoction, I make it every year as an homage to both mom and to Kentucky, the place I now call home.
I even own a cut glass bowl.
Cranberry Bourbon Sauce
Serves 6 to 8
Cranberry sauce is the quintessential Thanksgiving holiday staple. It offers a tart, zingy explosion of flavors to complement the neutral flavors of turkey and mashed potatoes.
My recipe is punched up a notch with a splash of dusty, mellow bourbon. Take it to the next level—add a little crumbed goat cheese, toasted walnuts and then zest a lemon over the top for that extra pop.
Watch it disappear. Appetite required.
1 (12 ounce) bag organic fresh cranberries, wash and drained
1 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup apple juice
1/8 cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of one large navel orange
Zest of one large lemon
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
- Add all of the ingredients, except the walnuts, in a medium saucepan.
- Cook over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until sugar is melted. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook about fifteen minutes, until the sauce thickens and berries begin to explode.
- Remove from heat and let the sauce cool for an hour.
- Add walnuts if desired and stir. Serve in a cut glass bowl (optional).
- Cover and refrigerate for up to four days, or freeze for up to one month.