1 bag of fresh cranberries (they were $1.50 at Wal-Mart)
1 navel orange (you don’t want to worry with seeds)
Right now. Go to the store and get them. Go. Now. I’ll wait. No, you can’t go first thing in the morning. You have to go right now. Trust me. OK.
All right. Everyone back? Wonderful. Now you can make the most delicious cranberry sauce ever. I know because I just finished making some. Everyone ready? Great!
All right, rinse the cranberries in cold water and drain them completely. Now wash and dry the citrus fruits (be sure to take the little stickers off them too).
Zest the orange, lemon, and lime. I use this. If you don’t have a zester, use a regular ol’ vegetable peeler to get the zest off, but be careful not to cut off the white stuff–it’s very bitter. Now, if you’ve used a vegetable peeler instead of a zester, you’ll have to cut the zests into very, very thin strips. It’s a pain but it’ll be worth it. (If you really, really want to go out tonight and get a zester like the one in the link above, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond should both have them.) Put all the zests in a small bowl.
Now, using your handy-dandy paring knife, cut all the white stuff off the citrus fruits. Holding each fruit over a bowl (a different bowl from the one the zests are in), cut the sections out with your paring knife and let the sections drop into the bowl. (There is a name for this technique, but it escapes me at the moment. Vrouw Jonker will probably fill us all in.) Be sure not to let any of the pith (the white part) get in: only the juicy citrusy goodness. After you’ve cut the sections out, squeeze the remaining glob o’ pith that’s in your hand over the bowl to get the rest of the juice. (In the case the the lemon and lime, you’ll probably have to fish out a few seeds after you do this.)
Put 1 cup of sugar and about 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan (use no more than 1/2 cup of water). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and it has stopped foaming. (You’ve just made a simple syrup). Now, add the zests and cook, stirring pretty frequently, until it stops foaming again. (Now you’ve made candied citrus peel, and if you taste some now, it will be very hard to stop eating it, so don’t taste it yet.) Next, add the citrus sections and juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture returns to a boil. Now add the drained cranberries and a cinnamon stick. Stir, return the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer it for a while. How long? Until the cranberries pop and it looks right. (How’s that for precise?) This will probably take about 15 minutes. Or so. During the last few minutes of cooking, stir in 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier (if you have some on hand).
Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick (and at this point I recommend licking the sauce off the cinnamon stick before discarding it). Put the sauce in a container and chill overnight.
Tomorrow, you will have the most delicious cranberry sauce to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey!
Added bonus: while it’s cooking, the combination of the cranberries, citrus, and cinnamon make the whole house smell like the holidays.