Once you’ve made your own cranberry sauce you’ll never want to go back to the bought stuff. It’s gratifyingly quick to make (ten minutes total, including time for taking a few covert and admiring Instagrams of the cranberries in the pan), it’s one of the most fun things to make during the festive build up and, unsurprisingly, it tastes much nicer than the bought version, as you can use better quality ingredients to make it just how you like it.
You can also put your own stamp on it – last year I made a port version, which worked really well; other years we’ve used cognac, to similar success. The basic ratio for experimentation is half sugar to cranberries; roughly half alcohol to water; a good bit of orange juice and zest and then whatever extra flavours you want. Nigella does a cherry brandy cranberry sauce, and Clodagh McKenna has a chilli and ginger recipe, which sounds like it would be great with turkey.
Another interesting idea, coming from the States, is a roasted cranberry relish, which could be a lighter, punchier, but no-less-festive option for the Stephen’s Day re-hash. You simply bake the cranberries until they split, and then you mix them into a sweet and spicy dressing and leave them to infuse for a few hours. Whatever way you decide to make it (or decant it; no judgment here – just stir in some fresh orange zest at the last minute to fool them), I hope you have a lovely Christmas dinner and a great festive break.
WHISKEY AND GINGER CRANBERRY SAUCE
Makes two medium jars; keeps for about a month; is just as good with leftovers.
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons whiskey
125g Demerara sugar
250g fresh cranberries (most supermarkets sell bags now; check the refrigerated area in the fruit and veg section)
Juice and zest of half a medium-sized orange
Tiny bit of fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons ginger ale (optional)
Simply put everything in a saucepan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the cranberries have burst. Since the sauce will thicken more as it cools, it might be a good idea to mash the last few survivors against the side of the saucepan rather than waiting for them to cook down. Taste it at this point – if your orange was sour, it may need another tablespoon of sugar. Pour the cranberry sauce into jars, or if you’re having it immediately, leave it to cool in the saucepan and then spoon into glass bowls. Serve with a little more orange zest on top.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY