Your mother won't budge on the use of Kitchen Bouquet in the gravy. And of course, there's always some punk who insists that Thanksgiving won't be Thanksgiving without the can o' jellied cranberries.
Where can even the most modest of culinary adventurers stake a claim on the same ole same ole Thanksgiving menu?
The secret is in the sauce.
Shake up this year's festivities and make your own cranberry sauce. Apple sauce, too. Place the real stuff right next to the jelly, and watch the drama unfold. It takes little time to prepare (less than 30 minutes), can be made in advance and actually tastes like cranberries. Although I'm partial to the addition of oranges, I've had fun zipping up the sauce with chopped fresh ginger, blood oranges and a garnish of chopped walnuts or pecans.
Applesauce, which was considered a vegetable in my house, is infinitely better made by hand. It, too, is an under-30 minute job and can be made a few days in advance.
The traditionalists may not want to admit it, but they'll love your contributions. And you, with your homemade sauces, will have reduced the evening's processed sugar quotient by a few percentage points.
1 16-ounce bag fresh cranberries
Water and/or cranberry or orange juice
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (optional)
Approximately 8 ounces maple syrup, or to taste.
Optional add-ons: chopped walnuts or pecans
Rinse cranberries and place in a medium saucepan. Before cutting oranges into halves, zest or grate some orange peel and dice. Squeeze juice from orange halves into mixture. Add liquid -- just enough to cover the cranberries. Add maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then lower temperature, and let simmer. Cranberries will pop, reduce and thicken. Stir occasionally. Cook until desired consistency and taste for sweet/tart ratio. Can take as little as 15-20 minutes. Serve either warm or chilled.
Estimate one apple per person. A mixture of apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathon and Mutsu to name a few) is a great idea for both flavor and texture.
For four medium apples (peeled, cored and cut into eighths or fourths), you'll need the following:
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Approximately 8 ounces of water
Pinch ground cinnamon
Sugar to taste
Place apples into a medium saucepan. Add water; amount is approximate because you want it to barely cover the apples. Add the rest of ingredients and stir to combine, over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let apples soften, reduce and thicken into a sauce. This will take about 12-15 minutes. Taste for sugar. Sauce is done when apples are completely soft and broken down. For a more pureed consistency, use a potato masher or wooden spoon.
Serve warm (delicious) or let cool and store in fridge. Will keep for a few days in an airtight container.
Questions about your T-Day feast? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.