When it comes to cranberry sauce, I am a cranberry-plus girl. Cranberries plus dried cherries; cranberries plus booze; and in this particular case, cranberries plus figs. It's not that cranberries aren't good on their own (they are!); it's just that they play so well with so many other things.
This is a rich, jammy cranberry sauce with dried figs and plenty of spices — the perfect complement to our California-inspired Thanksgiving menu this year.
Cranberry sauce is one of those things, too, on the Thanksgiving table where there is really no reason not to make it yourself. Although I admit to a nostalgic love for cranberry jelly from a can, at the holiday table I'll always serve a homemade sauce. It's just so easy! All you have to do is throw a few things in a pan, let them simmer, then pop the delicious result into the fridge for days (or in the freezer for months). It will only get better as it sits and the flavors bloom.
This year's cranberry sauce was inspired by two things: My all-time favorite cranberry sauce at Epicurious, this port and fig beauty; and the Oakland courtyard where we threw our Thanksgiving Gathering this year. It was filled with the scent of ripe figs dropping to the ground from an enormous tree — perhaps the ultimate symbol of California's ridiculous bounty.
But don't worry — you don't need fresh figs for this recipe. (They're as precious as gold here in Ohio and nearly everywhere else other than California.) Use dried figs instead and enjoy their rich, concentrated sweetness side by side with the tart cranberries.
More Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Recipes & Tips
Fig Cranberry Sauce
Serves 8 to 10
1/2 cup rye or bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
1/2-inch piece ginger, unpeeled and sliced into 2 thick coins
7 ounces (1 heaping cup) chopped dried figs, such as Mission
12-ounce bag of cranberries, picked over and wrinkled cranberries discarded
Bring the whiskey, water, brown sugar, and vinegar to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the cinnamon, star anise, ginger, dried figs, and cranberries. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minute or until berries burst and the sauce thickens slightly. Cool for 15 minutes then transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)