Last week, I shared a recipe for coffee cake that was inspired by my grandmother. This recipe also makes me think of her, because for years I thought it was a family tradition--you know, passed down from my Grandmother, to my father, and finally to me. My Grandmother taught me to make blueberry muffins, and inspired so many other dishes: Every time she had guests over for dinner, she would spend the next day on her typewriter, writing up a thank you letter and a recipe card for the meal she had made.
So it only seemed natural that this recipe, like so many others, was one of hers. Pass down the family line. This was such a nice thought that somehow, it stuck. It stamped out my memories of canned cranberry sauce, jiggly and can-shaped. It made me forget that I used to despise cranberry sauce.
But one day, many years after trying this recipe for the first time, I told my dad that I had made his favorite cranberry sauce--his mom's version. He gave me puzzled look, trying to figure out what "recipe" I may have used, since in reality she had always just used canned cranberries. Quickly the truth became clear: I was confused! My dad had actually found this recipe years ago on his own. When it was passed to me, and described as "our family recipe," well, things got confusing.
It is still a family recipe, in a sense--two generations counts, right? But mostly, it's just the best cranberry sauce I've ever had. It converted me from a cranberry sauce hater (or a cranberry sauce poker — someone that just pokes the slice of canned red stuff with their fork, never taking a bite), into a cranberry sauce fanatic (someone that can’t wait to make cranberry sauce come November).
This, my friends, is what cranberry sauce is all about. Refined sugar has been taken out of the equation, and what's left is a pure, delicious, tangy cranberry and apple relish. Studded with pecans, for a bit of texture, too.
Cranberry sauce isn't just for dinner! It makes a pretty awesome desert, served over ice cream or a slice of pound cake. If you eat dairy, it's delicious on yogurt, cottage cheese, or perfect for making an appetizer platter with baked brie or gruyere. Or, try it on french toast!
TIP: You can make this sauce a week ahead of the big day! Store in the fridge in air-tight containers.
Serves: 2 cups | Total Time: 25 minutes
- 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup diced apple
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Optional: 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
- In a small sauce pan, combine the cranberries, chopped apples, water, and honey. Cover and bring to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
- After ten minutes, the cranberries should be puffed or popping, and the honey should be dissolved. Add the lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir. Simmer for five more minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the toasted pecans. Serve immediately or allow to cool and place in an air tight container to serve later.