Don't Forget the Cranberry Sauce
And so, it seems, it’s almost Thanksgiving.
Last year, when my family came out to visit us in California and we cooked dinner in our Petaluma apartment, feels almost like it happened in another lifetime. Which in turn has made me realize just how much has changed and how much we’ve done/accomplished since then. Oh, we have so, so much to be thankful for!
This year, all I’m in charge of making is the cranberry sauce - which has pretty much been my job since I was a kid. The only difference now is, though, that I’m not adding sugar to the foods I make. SO - I’ve been working on a recipe that is naturally sweet so I can eat as much of this favorite side as I want without immediately getting a headache.
Drawing from the raspberry crumble bar recipe I posted earlier this year, here’s what I came up with: a delicious, tart sauce sweetened with dates and orange. Oh - and there’s a special ingredient in there too, courtesy of my dad, for a little extra kick.
As I hinted at before, I’m a little obsessed with cranberry sauce - so this recipe makes a batch big enough to feed my whole family on Thanksgiving and still leave some leftovers for me to enjoy for a few days after. I will also admit to eating this WHOLE batch in the three days after these photos were taken. I have a problem. No, really.
All this to say, if you don’t want that much sauce, simply cut this recipe in half and you’ll be good to go!
Pick through 2 bags (24 oz) of cranberries, removing any bad or overly squishy fruit, and then rinse thoroughly. Toss into a medium/large pot and set aside.
Now, chop 16 (approximately 10 oz) of pitted Medjool dates as finely as possible until they become a sticky paste. Alternately, you could use a food processor to complete this step - I just find it extremely satisfying to chop the dates by hand.
If you like a sweeter sauce, feel free to add 2 to 4 more dates at this point. Once chopped, place the dates in the pot with the cranberries.
Add 1 cup of water and the juice from two oranges to the pot. I juice my oranges directly over the pot, and generally encourage the pulp to become part of the mixture, too!
Now, if you’re feeling adventurous, add the secret ingredient - a generous pinch of red pepper flake! This is something my dad taught me - it gives the sauce a soft warmth that I find delicious. That being said, this ingredient is completely optional (as in, you’ll still end up with a fabulous sauce without it!).
Put the pot on the stove over medium heat and cook, stirring now and then, until the cranberries have all popped and the mixture becomes thick. I tend to know it’s done when I can push the sauce to the side of the pan with a spoon and it takes a moment or two to flow back into that space.
Pour into a storage container or serving dish and let cool on the counter. Serve at room temperature OR chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before putting it on the table (cold is my preferred way to eat it!!).
I hope (hope, hope!!) your Thanksgiving is full of love and light - enjoy!