When I was growing up I thought I didn’t like cranberry sauce. I realize now that was because my mother, who otherwise was a terrific “fresh from scratch” cook, used to serve that awful jelled mass from a can that was cut into slices (!) to serve. How anyone could think that stuff tastes like cranberries is beyond me. Needless to say, once I tastes fresh cranberry sauce, I never looked back. And it’s so simple to make, too.
On the back of a bag of cranberries is the basic recipe: Just combine 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil; then simmer until the berries pop, stirring to dissolve the sugar. It takes about 5 minutes and makes a good basic cranberry sauce.
There are, of course, many ways to improve upon the basic recipe, such as using fruit juice to replace the water (orange juice or cranberry juice are good choices). Sometimes, I’ve added bits of orange; another time, ginger; another time, chopped apples and pecans.
This year I decided to skip the water and sugar entirely in favor of one of my latest food addictions: lime marmalade. A good friend introduced me to the pleasures of a PB and J made with lime marmalade
and it was the best PB and J I ever had. I have since used lime marmalade in other recipes, such as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and in a glaze for tofu. I’ve gone through jars of the stuff. Trouble is, I can’t find it locally and have to order it online. But it’s worth it.
For the cranberry sauce, I had planned to combine the fresh cranberries with a cup of the lime marmalade, but discovered that I was on my last jar with only 1/2 cup remaining. So I made up the difference with 1/2 cup of mango jam, and I’m convinced its even better than if it had been entirely made with the lime marmalade. I braised the cranberries with the marmalade and jam for about 5 minutes, stirring as the jam and marmalade melted and the cranberries popped, releasing their own liquid. At this point you should taste it. If it’s not sweet enough to your taste, you can then add some sugar* or more jam. (We happen to like a tart cranberry sauce.) Then transfer to a container and cool. The cranberry sauce will firm up a bit after chilling in the refrigerator, but it will still give off some intensely delicious juice.
TIP: Strain off this juice and use it as a base for a sauce: it’s great in a barbecue sauce or use it as a base for an Asian-style dipping sauce or teriyaki sauce. I’ve even added a little to brown gravy.
If you don’t have lime marmalade, consider using orange marmalade. And I do love the half and half of citrus with mango, although you could try peach, apple, or pineapple jam instead. As you can see in the photo, I garnished it with a little finely grated lime zest to bring out the fresh lime flavor. If you think you don’t like cranberry sauce, you might want to give this a try!
*I added about 1/4 cup of light brown sugar and it was still nicely tart.