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Redder Than Red Cranberry Sauce

by . Featured in NIGELLA CHRISTMAS
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Introduction

When I was a child, I don’t think fresh cranberries were ever seen in England. For me, cranberry sauce came out of a jar – and my mother was the sort of person who made her own mayonnaise.

Actually, I have nothing against shop-bought cranberry sauce (and recommend it in various recipes), but I personally don’t quite see the point: it is ridiculously easy to make, and tastes so much better homemade that it feels like the wrong thing to cut out of your cooking schedule. Having a kitsch weakness for déclassé liqueurs, I love the cherry brandy element (not the sophisticated see-through kirsch, but the rich, red, sweet and viscous maiden-aunt’s tipple), though Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple sec or ruby port would be just dandy, too. But you can simply substitute some freshly squeezed orange juice (blood orange juice out of a carton would keep you tonally correct) and be prepared to up the sugar slightly – probably by an extra 100g / ½ cup, but don’t add it all at once – as the sweet liqueurs counter the fierce sharpness of the cranberries. If you’re squeezing an orange for juice, go that extra inch and zest it first over the cranberries in the pan.

When I was a child, I don’t think fresh cranberries were ever seen in England. For me, cranberry sauce came out of a jar – and my mother was the sort of person who made her own mayonnaise.

Actually, I have nothing against shop-bought cranberry sauce (and recommend it in various recipes), but I personally don’t quite see the point: it is ridiculously easy to make, and tastes so much better homemade that it feels like the wrong thing to cut out of your cooking schedule. Having a kitsch weakness for déclassé liqueurs, I love the cherry brandy element (not the sophisticated see-through kirsch, but the rich, red, sweet and viscous maiden-aunt’s tipple), though Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple sec or ruby port would be just dandy, too. But you can simply substitute some freshly squeezed orange juice (blood orange juice out of a carton would keep you tonally correct) and be prepared to up the sugar slightly – probably by an extra 100g / ½ cup, but don’t add it all at once – as the sweet liqueurs counter the fierce sharpness of the cranberries. If you’re squeezing an orange for juice, go that extra inch and zest it first over the cranberries in the pan.

Redder Than Red Cranberry Sauce
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 8-10

Metric Cups
  • 340 grams fresh cranberries
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 45 millilitres cherry brandy
  • 75 millilitres water
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cherry brandy
  • ⅓ cup water

Method

  1. Put everything into a pan and let it bubble away until the berries start to pop, stirring every now and again with a wooden spoon. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. The one thing you should bear in mind, though, is that the pectin-rich nature of the fruit means it solidifies enormously on cooling, so although it will be cooked when the berries have burst, it will still look runnier than you think cranberry sauce should.
  3. At this stage, give the sauce a final, vicious, whipping stir to help crush the berries into the liquid, and taste – making sure not to burn your mouth – to check whether it needs more sugar; if you find it too sweet, which is unlikely, just spritz in some lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. If you cook this sauce way in advance, it will jellify a lot so thrash it through with a fork before serving.
  1. Put everything into a pan and let it bubble away until the berries start to pop, stirring every now and again with a wooden spoon. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. The one thing you should bear in mind, though, is that the pectin-rich nature of the fruit means it solidifies enormously on cooling, so although it will be cooked when the berries have burst, it will still look runnier than you think cranberry sauce should.
  3. At this stage, give the sauce a final, vicious, whipping stir to help crush the berries into the liquid, and taste – making sure not to burn your mouth – to check whether it needs more sugar; if you find it too sweet, which is unlikely, just spritz in some lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. If you cook this sauce way in advance, it will jellify a lot so thrash it through with a fork before serving.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the sauce up to 1 week ahead. Cover and keep in the fridge. Stir well before serving.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight at room temperature. Stir well before serving.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the sauce up to 1 week ahead. Cover and keep in the fridge. Stir well before serving.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight at room temperature. Stir well before serving.

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What 6 Others have said

  • I really enjoyed this when I made it last Christmas. It's really easy to do and I can't wait to get going on it this year, I think I'm going to have to make a few more batches.

    Posted by Jacob Collins01 on 21st December 2015
  • This is the "Best Cranberry Sauce" recipe. I make it every Christmas without fail. My Christmas Turkey Lunch would not be the same without it. Thank you Nigella.....even good on ice cream.

    Posted by Cscoop on 22nd November 2015
  • Loved the recipe, added regular brandy which I had on hand, added extra spices, prepared in advance, so easy. Eleni

    Posted by 1Eleni1 on 24th December 2014
  • I just love this cranberry sauce recipe instead of the brandy I used amaretto and just a pinch of Christmas spice (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, clove and ginger) its now sitting and improving in the fridge cant wait till Christmas day to sink my teeth into it with my turkey ????

    Posted by philrricharrds1980 on 21st December 2014
  • This is the easiest recipe, and its so tasty. I added lemon zest and port instead of brandy, totally scrummy! So easy to make, I made 5 times the amount to give as christmas presents, but have kept one for my partner and me.. YUM!! Enjoy

    Posted by RozeeW on 21st December 2013
  • Easy peasy... and absolutely delicious! I've just finished making my 4th batch for Christmas because my husband puts it on everything he eats! I've modified the recipe to include the juice and grated peel of one clementine (mandarin)... and made a batch to give as Christmas gifts. This will become a staple in my household! Absolutely love it!

    Posted by Mozkiwi on 19th December 2012
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