Court the cranberry with our four favorite recipes to mix the sauce up this holiday season. 
The tartness and color of cranberries are a necessary complement to rich holiday menus – roast turkey, a duck and goose all benefit from the mouth-puckering acidity of cranberries. But why not try something new? These easy-to-make variations on the classic sauce give tradition a twist.

Think beyond the holidays: Whole raw berries freeze beautifully for a month, so try later with duck, rack of lamb or grilled chicken + jack cheese in a quesadilla!

Begin with:

Basic Cranberry Sauce

(Makes about 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 12-oz. package of cranberries
Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until berries start to burst. Cool completely, then chill.

Mix It Up

1. Cranberry-Apple Sauce

Substitute the juice of half an orange for 4 Tbsp. water in the original recipe. Zest the orange and cut into tiny dice. Chop 1 tart apple into cranberry-sized pieces and add apple plus zest to the boiled sugar water mixture, then add cranberries. Proceed with the basic recipe. Season with ground cinnamon to taste after removing the sauce from heat. Garnish with apple fan.

2. Chili Cranberry Sauce

Substitute 1/4 cup white wine for 1/4 cup of the water. Seed and chop a ripe, mild chili pepper (an Anaheim or poblano; or substitute 1/2 ripe red bell pepper and 1/2 ripe jalapeño pepper) and add to water with the berries. Proceed with basic recipe. Garnish with fresh red pepper.

3. Cranberry-Port Sauce

Skip the water. Cook cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup orange juice and 2 Tbsp. grated orange rind together until just a few berries burst. Add 1/2 cup of ruby port and cook another 2-3 minutes until most of the berries have burst.

4. Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Add to basic sauce after removing from heat:
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger
Garnish with crystallized ginger.

Can Do: Easy Ways to Jazz Up Store-Bought Jelly

Many of us have memories of perfectly can-shaped cranberry jelly on the Thanksgiving table. Since memories are a big part of the feast, don’t be ashamed to serve it up just the way you always have. But if you want to jazz the jelly up a bit, here are some ideas:

  • Serve the jelly in slices.

  • Add texture to it by sprinkling the jelly slices with chopped, toasted pecans.

  • Chill jelly thoroughly, slice and shape with cookie cutters.

  • Mash the jelly so it resembles jam and garnish with orange zest.

  • Mash the jelly and sprinkle with crumbles of blue or goat cheese.

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