What's On the Side: Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I totally have a soft spot for canned cranberry sauce. Growing up, that's the kind that graced our Thanksgiving table every year. I was typically tasked with the job of opening the can and delicately "splorting" it out onto the serving dish. Who doesn't love that little farting sound as the sauce finally makes its way out of the can after a few gentle shakes (and sometimes a couple encouraging taps)? However, a few years back, I discovered how easy it is to make cranberry sauce from scratch, and I haven't looked back since. This year I tried a new recipe which features hints of star anise and citrus flavors. Now, if only I could re-create those delightful can ridges. Oh wait, someone has already figured that one out -- looks like I know what I'll be trying next year!

Spiced Cranberry Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes 2 cups

5 whole star anise
12 oz fresh organic cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

1. Place the whole star anise spices in the center of a small square of cheesecloth. Fold up the edges and use a short length of kitchen twine to enclose the spices in a pouch. Trim off any excess. Set aside.
2. Add the cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest, and freshly-squeezed orange juice to a medium sauce pot. Top with the star anise spice pouch.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it begins to boil, cover the pot with a splatter guard and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened slightly. Carefully remove and discard the spice pouch.
4. Pour the sauce into a glass serving dish (preferably with a lid) and allow to cool slightly on the counter top. Serve warm, or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

(adapted from this Eating Well recipe)