I make it off the bag, for the cranberry relish recipe, and I put a bit less sugar than they say, and one thing I do that seems to make a huge difference, as it's cooking, I put in 2 cinnamon sticks, and let them cook with it, and then I keep them in it as it's cooling in the fridge....the cinnamon flavor gets completely emulsified into it, and breaks the sweetness up....everyone always thinks I do something so special to it, but that's it,,,simple as can be,,,but I do use, very good quality cinnamon sticks.
In my family, we make cranberry sauce using the recipe on the bag and then add slivered crystalized ginger - best to use a high quality one - Williams Sonoma's is good - Australian, in "coins". The earlier you make it and let the cranberries absorb the ginger, the better. We serve it with toasted slivered almonds mixed in at the last minute, but it is yummy w/o the nuts.
I have used cranberry sauce months later - maybe even once the Christmas leftovers at the following Thanksgiving - kept in the back of the fridge.
This is my absolute favorite. It is credited to the mother-in-law of NPR's Susan Stamberg. It has become a Thanksgiving tradition that she read it on air. Follow the link for more information.
Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Recipe
2 cups raw cranberries
1 small onion
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish
Grind together the cranberries and onion, add the remaining ingredients and mix. Put in a plastic container and freeze. On Thanksgiving morning, move the mixture to the refrigerator to thaw.
Makes 1 1/2 pints.
Here's a recipe I tried last year and am totally hooked now on fresh cranberry relish...will never go back to the canned stuff (but it's good as a sauce over meatballs) on the table. Very easy, too.
1 - 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 - cup cabernet sauvignon wine (any good drinkable kind is fine -- Coastal Ridge 2001 is very lovely and under $10, along with Trinity Oaks 2000, BV 2001 is also very nice, just trying to throw out some decent ones, all from California)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange or tangerine zest (tangerine is SO great here), orange part only!
1 - 3" cinnamon stick
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine and sugar, heating til sugar is dissolved. Then add the cranberries, zest and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, COVERING PARTIALLY with a lid. Cook til all the cranberries have popped, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to stand & cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. (But try licking & sucking the sauce off the stick, it's a blast and a guilty pleasure.) You can serve it at this point OR refrigerate til ready to use. You can serve it chilled but I think flavors are much better warmed up.
The one my mother uses is about as simple as it gets: one bag of cranberries, one apple (cored, but not peeled), and one orange (not peeled). Run everything through coarse die on grinder. Add sugar to taste (we usually use less than a cup, but it depends on the apple). Make 24 hours ahead so the flavors can blend. I'm not sure how long it will last in the fridge because, well, it never lasts very long around our house, but it does freeze well. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving or Christmas without it!
For Thanksgiving the past few years my family has had this Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce from epicurious.
It's really easy to make, looks great, and you can freeze it and defrost with no noticeable effect on taste/texture. Not sure how long it would last in the fridge.