This cranberry sauce? Right up there? Oh my god, you guys. This sauce is awesome.
Now, I could do a whole intro-to-the-recipe thing about how I never liked cranberries, but when I first got married and started making Thanksgiving dinners, I felt like it was important to include as many traditional foods as possible, and how I found this particular recipe in Sunset magazine (which I used to be completely in love with, despite there being essentially no relationship between it and the reality of my life) and tried it because it was one of the few recipes they had that didn't involve some technique or ingredient I'd never heard of, and then fell completely in love, said love being eclipsed, however, by Baroy's love for it. (He eats it by the heaping tablespoon, all by itself.) But I'm not going to tell that story...OK, I'm not going to tell any MORE of that story.
Instead, I'm just going to say this: Cranberry sauce can be something more than an overlooked, out-of-the-can accompaniment to the turkey and a potential stain on that special white linen tablecloth. No, seriously. This stuff? It's goooood. It's noticeably, ridiculously good. (I blame the vanilla. Actually, I'm pretty much convinced that anything with vanilla in it can't actually taste bad. But maybe that's just me.)
Cranberry Sauce (adapted from Sunset magazine, November 1995; Sunset adapted it from a recipe given to them by the folks at the Lark Creek Inn in Northern California)
2 bags of cranberries (24 ounces total, or 6 cups)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla
First, a disclaimer. Because of how much my family adores this cranberry sauce, and because we often have a dozen or more people to Thanksgiving dinner, I usually make three or four bags of cranberries, increasing the amounts of the ingredients as needed, and then tweaking them to taste. (By the way, you can use either fresh or frozen cranberries for this sauce. I tend to buy them fresh(ish) in a bag; I buy a whole bunch and freeze the ones I won't use for Thanksgiving for future dinners.)
Second, an explanation. We live in Southern California. There are two prolific lemon trees in my backyard. I am cheap. Hence, the mere idea of buying lemon juice makes me die a little inside. Instead, when the trees are bearing fruit, I make sure to juice as many of the ripe lemons as possible before they go bad, and then I freeze whatever juice I don't use immediately into little citrusy ice cubes. So, those orange ice-cube trays up there? Are my equivalent of store-bought lemons or lemon juice. Unless you live nearby, your mileage will probably vary.
Now, on with the instructions:
1. Put cranberries, both kinds of sugar, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon into a pot; bring all to a simmer.
2. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will (and should) start to burst open. Keep simmering and keep stirring until most if not all of the cranberries have 'popped.' The recipe says this takes 8 to 10 minutes; I don't think I've ever timed it, but I feel like it might take a little bit longer.
3. Turn off heat; take pot off burner. Stir in vanilla.
And you're done. This can be served warm (which is definitely the way I prefer it, but we've already discussed this), or it can be made ahead, chilled in the fridge in an airtight container, and served within a week.
Now that I've shown you mine, hows about you guys showing me yours: What's your favorite traditional recipe for Thanksgiving, and what do you do to it to kick it into high gear? Or, if you scoff at traditional anything, what's your favorite non-traditional Thanksgiving recipe? Spill. Now. Please? I'd be ever so thankful...