Make Ahead

Papa Bill's Cranberry Sauce

October 12, 2015
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Author Notes

All my childhood food memories and my love of cooking come from my grandparents. My Platonic ideal Thanksgiving dinner stems from many Thanksgivings cooked by my grandparents. Now I’m a vegetarian, but I still crave that traditional Thanksgiving feast, just without the turkey. My grandfather, Papa Bill, cut this cranberry sauce recipe out of an early 1990’s newspaper insert as an “easy microwave side dish!”, with just three ingredients- a bag of fresh cranberries, a cup or orange juice, and two cups of white sugar. Papa Bill adapted it a little, and then I adapted it further to its current recipe (especially the whiskey!). Now I make this recipe from memory, and our Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without this bowl of deliciousness. —Allison

  • Serves 8-10
  • 24 ounces raw cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (leave pulp in)
  • zest of two oranges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch salt
In This Recipe
  1. Roll oranges on the counter to break membranes to get maximum juice, then either:
  2. Zest the oranges OR peel the zest in large strips from the oranges. Make sure no white pith is left on the zest, and slice the peels into very thin strips. If the kids are napping while I’m cooking, I slice into strips, if they aren’t napping, I zest! Both ways are delicious!
  3. Juice the zested/peeled oranges. Be sure to collect and discard any seeds. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high heat until sugars fully dissolve and the liquid starts to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Stir occasionally to scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning (been there!) and aerate the sauce until the berries are burst and the sauce is a very thick but still pourable consistency, probably 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pour into a clear glass serving bowl and let cool. The natural pectin in the cranberries will set the sauce as it cools, and the clear bowl will show off the beautiful red color. Enjoy!

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