Among the post-prandial activities at my family’s Thanksgiving festivities—which included a noisy game of Slamwich; several rounds of pass-the-baby with my five-week-old nephew, Felix; and my mother’s unforgettable rendition of the “Gangnam Style” dance—were many exchanges of cooking tips and recipe advice. The hot topics: cousin Leslie’s delicious mache and avocado salad with Styrian pumpkinseed oil, the vegetarian stuffing, and, of all things, the jellied cranberry sauce I whipped up. I’ve never been a big fan of the canned variety and, truth be told, it was never a big part of my family’s tradition. But this recipe, which I adapted rather freely from a Food 52 post on Canal House’s Cranberry-Port Gelee, was a winner. It will now join the ranks of the required holiday dishes, which include Meta Given’s Macaroni and Cheese, Conrad Fortier’s turnips and carrots, and Pinar’s Muhammara.
1 cup Calvados or brandy
1 cup organic cane sugar
10 black peppercorns
1 whole clove
4 cups fresh or fozen cranberries
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped, preferably Macoun or Macintosh
Put the Calvados, sugar, and whole spices into a heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the apple and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries pop and soften quite a bit, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on whether your berries were frozen. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve (I do it twice, because I’m like that), scraping the solids against the screen with a spatula. Discard the solids. Stir the jelly and transfer to a bowl or jars. You could probably put it into a washed soup can and get the effect of the Ocean Spray jelly, if this is important to you. Cover and refrigerate. The sauce sets up to a silky jelly once it cools, although it is not as thick as the canned kind. It is superb.