What’s Happening in Kelli’s Kitchen 

  • 2021-11-07, 05:04 AM
  • Kelli Kelly
What’s Happening in Kelli’s Kitchen 

The ghosts and goblins have completed their annual romp through our dusk-lit neighborhood streets; candy has been gathered and sorted and the shenanigan threat level has returned to normal small-town thresholds.  Those who practice have celebrated the solstice and winter has officially begun.  All of these annual rites signal the impending arrival of a foodie’s favorite day of celebration--Thanksgiving.  While there is an increasing amount of social baggage around the history of Thanksgiving, the celebration of a bountiful harvest is nothing new or unique to America--in fact, celebrations of the end of the growing season are fairly ubiquitous.  Gathering together in community, sharing a meal, expressing gratitude for the season that has passed, and marking the start of the rebirth of the year are all worthwhile traditions and are some of my favorite reasons to celebrate.   

The thing about celebrations is that they are often centered around food--and none more emphatically than Thanksgiving.  All of my significant November memories are snapshots of the dining room table crowded to overflowing with platters and bowls; friends and family gathered eagerly around, forks poised mid-bite.  But an abundantly dressed table requires planning, collaborating, and executing a variety of culinary tasks that is definitely a level-up from standard meal preparation.  Think of the stress involved with hosting your first family Thanksgiving dinner, mother-in-law on the guest list judging how well you executed their treasured family recipes--it’s enough to make even the most stoic lose sleep.  In order to help take some of the stress off your shoulders this year, I am dedicating the next three columns to some delicious harvest-y dishes that deserve a place on your dining room table! 

Since it is only the first week of November, now is a great time to start figuring out your dinner plan.  Are you going to stick with the basics or are you going to go all out? Are you responsible for just a single dish for a family potluck or are you tasked with preparing the feast in its entirety?  How many people are coming to dinner and do they have dietary restrictions?  All of these questions (and more) will help you make decisions about what to include on your table and your prep list!   

Anytime my celebration menu includes either turkey or pork, I make cranberry sauce from scratch.  November is 100% cranberry season and I am loath to serve that jellied concoction that maintains its ribbed tin-can shape once dumped onto a plate.  Cranberry sauce is so very simple to make yourself and, with a little creativity, can be the perfect bright-tart foil to the richness of hearty meats.  I am particularly fond of adding horseradish into my cranberry sauce for a sweet, tangy, and hot companion to smoked turkey or roast pork loin--but there are myriad ways to dress up a bag of bright-red bog berries that will have your guests singing praises. 

As a bonus, cranberry sauce can be stored in your fridge for up to a few months so this is totally a dish that you can make ahead of time!  The following recipes yield about 2 cups of sauce or about 8-12 servings. 

 

Cranberry-Horseradish Sauce 

 

INGREDIENTS: 

1 bag fresh cranberries 

8 oz prepared horseradish or ⅓ cup packed fresh horseradish, peeled and grated. 

⅔ c sugar 

⅓ c water 

 

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries start popping.  Continue stirring and mashing berries until you have reached your desired consistency (some like it chunky) about 10 minutes. 

Serve either warm or at room temperature.  

You can make this sauce ahead.  Let cool completely and then refrigerate in a covered container.  Before serving either let your sauce come to room temperature or reheat over low heat.  

 

Basic From Scratch Cranberry Sauce 

 

INGREDIENTS: 

1 bag fresh cranberries 

1 c sugar 

1/4 c water 

1 orange, zest and juice 

1 cinnamon stick 

2 whole cloves (optional) 

Pinch of salt 

 

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to pop.  Mash berries and continue to cook until all of the cranberries are broken down and have a jammy consistency, about 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes.  Stir in water, a little at a time, to achieve your desired consistency. 

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. 

Kelli Kelly

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