Most families have a set traditional Thanksgiving menu. Everyone has their favorite dishes that are a must beyond the turkey, but turkey can get complicated too – brined, kosher, smoked, fried, or roasted! I believe adding or changing some of the side dishes keeps the Thanksgiving menu exciting and lots more fun for an adventurer in food. Several years ago, I was determined to perfect my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
I grew up in Wisconsin, a national leader in cranberry farming, producing more than 60% of the cranberries Americans consume each year. (source: Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association). My grandfather was a cranberry farmer, so this was a personal mission to create a new family cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
I wanted a cranberry sauce that was not too sweet and had no nuts (per my husband.) A memorable cranberry sauce from a previous Thanksgiving included port wine and orange juice. The port wine added flavor and balanced the tartness of the cranberries without being too sweet, and the citrus juice was a refreshing element with the turkey. I experimented and tweaked spices with wine pairings in mind and created a new family Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. The recipe has become a part of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
After years of living and visiting Wisconsin, this fall (late September) was my first time actually to experience a cranberry harvest.
“Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow underwater or in standing water. The low-growing, perennial vines blossom in late June or early July. Honeybees assist in pollination, and small green berries are evident by early August. The cranberry matures in fall when beds are flooded, and the crimson berries are harvested.” (source: Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association).
- 1 cup Ruby Port
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup tangerine juice
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 stars of anise
- In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients except cranberries. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 4 minutes.
- Add the cranberries and bring mixture to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving