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.
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
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.
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.
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.