Michael Symon’s family often breaks into a heated debate during Thanksgiving — but only because they can’t agree on whether cranberry sauce should be canned or homemade. Most of his relatives are OK with canned, but not Michael, which is why he came up with this flavorful sauce. “This is my attempt to sway my family with the magic of bourbon,” he says.
Combine the sugar and bourbon in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring well. Add the cinnamon sticks, ginger and orange zest and juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the liquid begins to reduce a bit, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the cranberries and vanilla bean and seeds to the pan and continue to simmer until the cranberries are soft and breaking apart and the sauce begins to thicken, 12 to 15 minutes. If desired, mash your cranberries with a sturdy whisk or potato masher, just to break them up, and simmer to thicken a little bit more, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and discard the cinnamon sticks, ginger pieces and vanilla bean. Let the sauce cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 10 days — the flavors only get better as they chill out in the fridge.