I’ve been an unabashed lover of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce my entire life. I love the stuff. My family all knew they needed to have it on hand for me at Thanksgiving, even long after they’d all moved on to homemade cranberry recipes. Once, in college, braggadocio about this misguided love led to the acceptance of a challenge to eat an entire can with a spoon (washed down with cheap beer, surely). I did it. I even enjoyed the first two-thirds.

Following what I preach in my Analyze This story, however, I realized that I needed to move on. The person I now am, so focused on flavor, texture, aroma, nuance in food simply could not continue to claim this food is an acceptable side at a meal where I serve otherwise high-concept dishes.

So, a few years ago, I gave in and started making homemade cranberry sauce. I’ve actually had quite a bit of success with a few versions, including one with dried figs, but my favorite has to be this one with Ruby Port that is insanely easy to make, tastes somewhat reminiscent of good ol’ Ocean Spray (yet even better), and, best of all, leaves an open bottle of Port to enjoy after the meal.

Cranberry Sauce with Port (adapted from Saveur)

1 cup ruby port
1 cup white sugar
1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries – preferably Ocean Spray 😉
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Bring all ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and cook until mixture achieves a syrupy consistency, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature (and/or refrigerate) before serving.

If ruby port is not available, tawny can also work (though the cost of a high-end tawny probably makes this less appealing to most). I’ve also used red passito dessert wine (e.g. Sagrantino, Recioto) successfully.

photo by nomadic lass