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I have never been a fan of canned cranberry sauce even though it was always a staple at our Thanksgiving table when I was growing up. I love the flavor, but just do not care for the jellied texture.
About 10 years ago, my husband and I watched an episode of “Good Eats” with Alton Brown that changed my opinion of cranberry sauce. The episode was about making a Thanksgiving turkey that is moist and juicy by brining it. We were so impressed with the method, brining the turkey and roasting it with aromatics in the cavity, that we have used his recipe each Thanksgiving since.
Near the end of the episode, Brown demonstrated a cranberry dipping sauce recipe that I thought sounded like it would be fun to try. It always seemed Thanksgiving was too hectic without adding an untried recipe, though. I never remembered I wanted to try it until it was too late to gather all the ingredients. Finally, two years ago, I got the chance to make my own cranberry sauce.
Brown created this recipe because he said that gravy masks the flavor of turkey and is to make dry turkey palatable. Brined turkeys are not dry, so according to Brown gravy is not needed. Besides, the flavor of cranberries complements turkey. The cranberry sauce is intended to dip the turkey in, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good that was. The people I served the sauce to were not interested in dipping their turkey in anything, and they like gravy. The homemade rolls that my husband baked were excellent dipped in cranberry sauce, though, according to our guests.
We had seven adults and three kids at our meal, and there was far more sauce than we needed. Next time I make it, I intend to can it in 4-ounce jars and send it home with our guests or save it for turkey dinners later in the year.
The sauce is tart, so additional sugar may be added if desired. I would like to try adding extra ginger next time, too. I suggest serving the leftovers over vanilla ice cream to round out the meal.
1 pound frozen cranberries
2 cups orange juice
3 cups ginger ale
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 orange, zested
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
Carefully puree with stick blender or blender until smooth. Check for seasoning and serve in small ramekins.
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