Cranberry sauce from a can may be OK for crock pot recipes, but it is definitely not OK for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Last year's recipe was really random (with balsamic vinegar and jalapenos) and my brother requested straight, plain Jane sauce this year. I can't just do plain Jane, so I went on the hunt for something better than just berries and sugar. I found this recipe and it gets five stars from me. It's not too sweet, not too tart and has lots of extra texture that makes it more interesting than straight mushy berries. It comes courtesy of Wayne Deen, son of Paula Deen, with some tweaking and substitutions by yours truly, which I've written into the version below.
Not Too Tart Cranberry Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp orange extract
1/2 orange, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1. Combine sugar and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers.
2. Add the apples, pecans, raisins, extract, orange and lemon juices, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.
Substitution Suggestions: The original recipe called for walnuts. We like pecans. It also called for 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, but since I don't drink, I don't have it in the house. So, I substituted 1 tbsp orange extract for the orange liqueur. Orange juice concentrate would also work. I omitted the raisins, but only because I didn't have any handy.
Lessons Learned: It's a really easy recipe and unless you're serving a big crowd, you will have plenty of leftovers. If you don't include the nuts, you could easily use the leftovers for cranberried pork or cranberried chicken, which is also posted on this blog.
Use sweet apples, not Granny Smith. The cranberries are tart enough that you don't need extra pucker power from Granny Smith apples.