16 November, 2011

The Great Debate

Yes, folks, it is that time of the year again, when traditionalists face off against the avant-garde.  Nowhere is this more apparent than around the Thanksgiving table.  On one side we have the hardliners who haven't deviated from their annual menu since Great-aunt Minnie served the first green bean casserole. On the other side sit the trailblazers, the provocateurs who dare to offer a yam gratin in lieu of sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows and pumpkin souffl√© rather than pie.

But perhaps nowhere is the divide more apparent than on the subject of cranberry sauce: jellied or chunky, sweet or spicy, canned or homemade.

Bowing my head, not in shame but to hide my grin, I admit to being a non-traditionalist.  This year I'll be serving a roast capon with a shiitake mushroom and Armagnac sauce.  My stuffing will be a savory spinach and artichoke bread pudding and nary a green bean will be seen.  Instead my family will be eating an herbed zucchini gratin.  Dessert? A pear tart with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

Will there be cranberry sauce? No, there will not. I will however, be making cranberry ketchup for those sandwiches we'll be eating on Friday.  I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it is a wonderful switch from regular ketchup.  It's also the perfect hostess gift if someone else is doing the cooking this year.

 Cranberry Ketchup

1 12-ounce bag whole cranberries, picked over (3 1/3 cups)  
2 large onions, finely chopped (2 1/2 cups)  
1 cup white wine vinegar  
2 medium garlic cloves, minced  
1 Tbsp ground allspice  
1 tsp salt  
2/3 cup sugar  

1 In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine 2/3 cup water with the cranberries, onions, vinegar, garlic, allspice and salt. Bring to a simmer over moderately low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and pulpy, about 20 minutes. Stir in the sugar, return to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes longer. Let cook for 30 minutes.

2 Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree, then strain into a glass measure. Pour the ketchup into glass bottles or jars and refrigerate. The ketchup will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months
Yields 1 1/2 pints.


  1. I want to come to your house for dinner! Love the cranberry ketchup idea--I'm going to try it.

    We *have* to have the same thing every year or the kids would revolt. Our lives have been disrupted enough (their father died when they were 6 & 12, I remarried and we moved 700 miles from "home") so I bow to tradition! Which now includes a fresh turkey from Tom Otto's turkey farm, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. All homemade. Pies, too. I make one traditional pumpkin pie and usually try something new for the other one--this year I'm contemplating a pumpkin spice latte cheesecake!

  2. I never celebrated Thanksgiving until I came to this country. We lived in Thailand, Colombia, and Spain for several years, so there were no celebrations except among the American community, but most of them were a bit clique-y and held at the local Hilton Hotel - yes, they are in every country! -- but my American husband eschewed all that stuff. He wan't a disaffected American, just liked the local culture. When I and my kids came here I embraced every American holiday with gusto (well, maybe not July 4 that much :) ) but I do make trifle and bread-and- butter pudding with a sauce made of sweet sherry, lemon, and jam, or just plain whipped cream, for dessert on holidays.

    When my mother visited the US for the first time she fell in love with Thanksgiving and took back a suitcase packed with pilgrim candles, paper plates and napkins, all that stuff, and made the meal for relatives. Then she discovered that the London Hilton did a spread, so she'd take the train there for the day, just for the feast.
    Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on.