Grappa Cranberry Sauce
I am not a Thanksgiving purist by any stretch of the imagination, but when you’re making a turkey dinner there must be at least two (2) additional items on the table:
1. Turkey gravy
2. Cranberry sauce
You know it’s true. So let’s talk about the cranberry sauce, because my affection for cranberry sauce (rivaled only by my passion for stuffing) is almost a bit of an embarrassment. I eat it with my turkey. I mash it up on the side of my potatoes. I enjoy ‘accidental’ cranberry corn (that’s no accident) and I furtively eat it off the serving spoon when people think that I’m diligently cleaning dishes up off the table and I’m actually hiding in there and scarfing back more food. Such are the joys of the holidays.
I won’t lie to you and say that I refuse to eat processed cranberry sauce, because it could be that one day in the far distant past (last year) I found an antiquated can on cranberry sauce that my room-mate had left in the back of the pantry and I ate it. For dinner. Because I’m actually half-woman and half-raccoon. But the fact is that canned cranberries have no place on the Thanksgiving table. I mean that. Truesies. Homemade cranberry sauce is painless and far superior to anything that shlupfs its way out of a can in one unified mass.
More to the point, I’ve been ogling this recipe for over a year and that’s actually why I made a Greek inspired Thanksgiving dinner in the first place, because I wanted Grappa flavored cranberries. The thing is, although that looks delightfully aesthetic, I would feel a bit cheated if my cranberry sauce was molded. I don’t want a sliceable cranberry gelee, I want SAUCE!! And straining it? STRAINING IT?! That’s just not fair. There are no tart cranberries to pop in your mouth! There’s no texture, no chew! Bah, I say!! So I stole the basic elements of their recipe (ie, use a lot of grappa) and made it my own.
Have you ever been to a Grappa tasting? Or, more importantly (and less yuppie), have you ever just tasted Grappa? It’s… bold. And harsh. The best Grappas that I’ve had occasion to drink have still been hair-raisers where after a few shots your “OPA!” turns into, “O-PArdon me it’s just that I have to get into the bathroom QUICKLY and I’llbebackinjustaminu -”
Splitting the grappa up into two doses (one to mellow out with the cranberries and the other to swing your pendulum back at the end) really makes a difference. If you added it all at the initiation you would lose a lot of the distinct grappa-ness. But… if you added it all at the end then you would have to plan on sitting a bit further back and not breathing on the lit candles.
Oh, and we don’t have kids. I should mention that. This might not be the most family friendly recipe for cranberry sauce out there. Mind you, maybe a little Grappa might calm the wild ones down and make it an enjoyable holiday for all. No? That’s a horrible idea? You’re calling Children’s Aid just on principle? Don’t worry guys, I’m still on the pill.
One final note: I don’t like my cranberry sauce to be too runny or sweet. I also like to see some whole berries intact. That’s just how I am. If you like a sweeter sauce, use more sugar! If you like a thinner sauce, use more water! That’s just the way it goes.
Grappa Cranberry Sauce
- 2 bags (24 oz/680g) fresh or frozen unsweetened cranberries
- 1 orange (1 tbsp zest, juice of whole)
- 1 cup good quality Grappa (divided)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Water, as needed