I have a confession to make.
Before I started the research for our cranberry video, I had never made my own cranberry sauce. Never.
I was a devotee of the canned cranberry sauce — that wiggly, indeterminate jello-mold-of a-so-called-sauce, whose shape resembled the can it came out of. I realize now that my devotion was rooted in little more than nostalgia: the canned sauce had graced my mother's Thanksgiving table every year for decades; it wasn't Thanksgiving without it.
Or was it?
I'll be honest: I always looked forward to that slice of molded sauce, but I can't think of a single Thanksgiving meal when I finished it. It was a bit cloying. It had no texture. It just melted forgettably on my tongue.
When I started writing the script for the cranberry video, I wondered how easy it would be to make fresh cranberry sauce. The first time I tried, I was stunned at how quickly it came together. It had tantalizing nuance — an interplay of tart and sweet between the berries and the honey — and a chunky but supple texture that made the sauce substantial.
And that was just the basic recipe we shared in the video. A week before our cranberry episode aired, our associate producer, Nicole Alper, had my husband Mark and I over to dinner with a few others to celebrate cranberries. She is an exceedingly good cook (with a published cookbook under her belt), and while the roast pork and the pecan rice pilaf all shined, it was her cranberry sauce that made everyone swoon.
Seriously, I nearly licked the bowl.
Studded with raspberries and pomegranate seeds, and laced with cinnamon, allspice and ginger, it was both delicious and beautiful. I Instagramed a photo of it (you know we're on Instagram, don't you?), and people clamored for the recipe.
So without further ado, I present Nicole Alper's Cranberry Sauce — a show-stealing dish that will grace my own Thanksgiving table this year. Yes, it's the end of a long tradition (sorry, canned cranberry); but it's the start of a new one, too.
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries
- 12 oz. fresh raspberries (2 pints)
- seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, sugar and honey over high heat until the sugars dissolve.
2. Add the cranberries and all the spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer gently on low for approx. 15 minutes, until the cranberries have ruptured and softened.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in the raspberries and pomegranate seeds.
Cool. Serve. Smile.