Use a good port, red wine or even a Madeira if that’s what you have on hand. Cranberries have so much natural pectin that this sauce will set up even if you don’t refrigerate it.
Put 1 cup port, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon juniper berries, and 10 black peppercorns into a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries burst and are very soft, about 10 minutes.
Strain the sauce into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the solids through with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Canal House Cooks Every Day by Hamilton & Hirsheimer, Andrews McMeel 2012.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.