I know we’ve all got meaningful traditions that honestly make it THANKSGIVING for us. If it’s not prepared a certain way, served in a specific dish, or if a recipe isn’t made, then to quote my friend Glenn, “Thanksgiving is RUINED.” Yes, we are all set in our ways. When we were kids, my cousin, Rita had this amazing ability to get the cranberry jelly out of the can and onto a serving plate so that the jelly retained the perfect shape of the can, ridges and all, with no marks whatsoever. To this day, I still have no idea how she got it out so perfectly.
In our house, it’s not Thanksgiving without my mom’s chestnut stuffing. For Rita, it’s not Thanksgiving without that perfectly-shaped can of cranberry jelly. And for my husband’s family, it’s not Thanksgiving without Nonna’s handmade gnocchi.
We’d like to inspire you to make a NEW Thanksgiving tradition this time; by making a fresh cranberry sauce to serve alongside your feast. It’s so easy to make an SO MUCH HEALTHIER for you than the store-bought stuff. For those die-hards, serve this next to the canned stuff and see which one wins out (we’ve got our money on this one).
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Cranberry Sauce, DearMartini-style
Makes 2 cups
Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving should be the perfect balance of sweet and tart. We use dark brown sugar for a deeper sweetness, and orange juice to round out the sharpness of the berries. Our secret ingredient: crystallized ginger. The ginger brings depth and a surprise of heat at the end.
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked through
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Stir together cranberries, orange zest, juice, sugar, and salt and pepper in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture stirring occasionally over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop. Remove from heat and stir in the ginger.
Cool sauce and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Note: Sauce can be prepared up to a week before Thanksgiving.