Thanksgiving Menu Plan

19 11 2009

I was in a bit of a funk earlier this week.  I wasn’t even excited about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  But last night, Nick suggested we get our menu plan written down, and all of a sudden the excitement showed up.

The Menu:

Roast turkey
Turkey gravy (Remember the velouté? That’s pretty much it, with pan drippings added at the end.)
Wild mushroom bread pudding (Original recipe from this book, but now I wing it.)
Kick-Ass Cranberry Sauce (recipe below)
Sour cream and green onion mashed potatoes
Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions
Potimarron pie with (time willing) pine nut-sage brittle

Pop!

So enthused was I that I took a long detour on the way home from work today to pick up a bag of overpriced cranberries.  Last year I was unable to find fresh cranberries, and made do with a jar of Ocean Spray, but I missed the homemade stuff.  My recipe, for cranberry-orange-ginger sauce, has been a hit since its inception five years ago, and since I get to have it this year, I figure you should, too, if you want.

Just right

This year I was low on granulated sugar, so I used cassonade, aka raw sugar.  I think it’s made the sauce especially delicious, but I know from experience that it is just fine made with white sugar.  I also saw the bottle of Cointreau looking lonely on the shelf, and thought it might want to join in the fun.  I think some people like having whole cranberries in their homemade sauce, but I can’t help popping them.  Cranberry sauce is like the culinary equivalent of bubble wrap.  Once those little red jewels heat up, all it takes is a bit of pressure from the wooden spoon, and pop!  It is so intensely satisfying, and I can’t stop myself.  Before I know it, all the lovely berries are gone, and I’m left with a gorgeous, garnet-red, jammy sauce.  Still tastes good, though.

Jewel-toned and super tasty!

Before I get to the cranberry recipe, I’d like to give you a few more ideas for your Thanksgiving spread this year.  I think any of these would be welcome additions to the holiday table.

Balsamic roasted beets with bacon and chestnuts
Potimarron-fingerling gratin with cider-braised leeks
Roast parsnips and apples
Cumin-maple sweet potatoes with spiced pecans
Date crumble bars
Brown butter ice cream (try it with apple pie!)

And now, the cranberry sauce…

Kick-Ass Cranberry Sauce

The first year I hosted my own Thanksgiving dinner, I had a grand total of three people at the table.  That didn’t stop me from going all out.  (Needless to say, we had leftovers for days.)  I wanted to give the cranberry sauce a bit of a kick, and I thought orange and ginger would do the job nicely.  They did – to quote my friend who shall remain nameless “Wow, Camille, you kicked my mom’s ass!” – and I’ve never since gone back to plain cranberry sauce.

1 bag (340 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup / 250ml water
1 cup / 200g granulated sugar or cassonade (raw or turbinado sugar)
A pinch of salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
A splash of Cointreau (optional)

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil. You don’t have to do this first, but I like to hear the cranberries pop when they hit the pan.
  2. Add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, salt, ginger, and Cointreau (if using).  Return to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until thickened and a deep garnet color, about 25 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a serving vessel and cool.  Chill, covered in plastic wrap, until needed.  (The sauce will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.)

Makes about a pint – more than enough to accompany a turkey dinner for eight.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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