November 24, 2009

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce

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Every year for Thanksgiving, I volunteer to make cranberry sauce.  For me, it's not Thanksgiving unless cranberry sauce is part of the spread, so to ensure it appears on the menu, I happily take on the effortless task of making it.  I can't ever remember a Thanksgiving where cranberry sauce was not part of the array of foods we ate, even if it sometimes came from a can and jiggled wildly in the serving dish.  You see, I love cranberries.  And not just in cranberry sauce, either.  Cranberry juice: love it, cranberry-nut bread: love it, cranberries in pies: love them.  You get the picture.  

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I've been making the back-of-the-bag recipe for years, and I usually don't fiddle around with recipes that work and taste great.  I don't like to change up recipes with too much experimentation; for some odd reason, it unnerves me.  It's not that I don't like trying new recipes and I'm not totally against changing up a recipe that I've used for years.  It's just that the changes can't be too drastic and they have to make sense.  I guess my food "style" is just like my fashion style: classic.  There are no trendy ingredients or bizarre preparation methods; just good-quality ingredients prepared simply so that their inherent tastes and textures shine.

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So it's no surprise that although I'm using a slightly different recipe this year, it isn't too different than the recipe I've always used.  To the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and sugar, this year's batch gets accessorized with a splash of Grand Marnier.  And instead of making it on the stove-top like I normally do, I baked the sauce in the oven. (I'm really letting my hair down this year, I know).  

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It turns out that baking these lip-puckering, tart gems in a moderately heated oven allows them to cook down more gently, turning them a deep shade of crimson as their thin skins slowly split open with a pop and a hiss, the juices and sugar reducing into a jam-like sauce.  And I can't neglect to tell you how divinely holiday-ish your house will smell during their hour-long stay in your oven.  Then, of course, there's the matter of taste-testing (someone's got to do it, right?).  Sweet, tart, a hint of citrus and a boozy depth of flavor from the Grand Marnier.  This is the back-of-the-bag cranberry sauce recipe, elevated.  And you know what?  It turns out that changing things up a bit in the kitchen isn't so unnerving after all.  I just may have to do it more often. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  And Buon Appetito!

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
2 T. Grand Marnier liquor

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place cranberries in a baking dish.  Sprinkle them with the sugar and then add the orange juice and orange zest.  Toss lightly to combine.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until the cranberries have softened and released their juices.  Remove from oven, uncover and mix in liquor.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in a container.  Keep chilled.  Before serving, allow it to come to room temperature, about 30-40 minutes.

Note: When you pull the cranberries out of the oven, the juices will be rather thin.  They will thicken as the sauce cools, so be sure to pour all the juices into the storage container.

Comments (1)

This looks and sounds incredibly good and easy! I add a touch of allspice in mine and it makes such a difference, but that Grand Marnier is calling me...loudly!

Posted by Lori
11/19/11
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