Thanksgiving cooking has begun! I started with cranberry sauce because I knew it would keep well all week long. Growing up, I don’t even remember having cranberry sauce on the table. I’m sure we did, but it was one of those strange dishes that just seemed unnecessary. I’m not sure when I became a convert—all I know is that I love a good homemade cranberry sauce. This recipe is one I’ve been using for years. It’s more tart than sweet, using cinnamon and allspice to balance out the flavor. I used dried Bing cherries and local Oregon cranberries (fresh and dried.) Since the tartness is the appeal for me, I use plain cranberry juice as the base instead of cranberry cocktail, but I’m sure it’s good either way.
I started by preparing the lime zest and lime segments. Use a small, sharp paring knife to separate the juicy flesh from the membranes. Once the cranberry juice is boiling pour everything except the currant jelly and lime zest into the pot. This is my favorite moment—when fresh cranberries start popping. The currant jelly will help it firm up as it cools, while also adding another layer of fruitiness. The lime zest added in at the end is a fun twist on more traditional orange.
I also took this opportunity to roast some local Oregon hazelnuts, which will be part of my cheese board and a topping on my salad. It’s fun designing a menu that incorporates some of the best local foods of the season. To roast I just pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees (the variety of nut determines the temperature) and placed the hazelnuts in one even layer in a roasting pan. A rimmed baking sheet would also work well. I roasted them for 15 minutes, shaking them every five minutes or so to keep them from over-browning. After pulling them out of the oven I poured the hot hazelnuts into a clean, dry kitchen towel. Wrapping the towel up for a couple of minutes helps the hazelnuts steam a little, which makes rubbing the skins off much easier. It’s not possible to completely remove the skins, but if you rub them vigorously through the towel the majority should slide off. I store my roasted nuts in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Nuts can go rancid, so I typically keep raw nuts in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness. Once they are toasted I store them at room temperature but try to use them up within a week. Store them in a dark place, like the pantry, to help them stay fresh.
Are you preparing anything in advance? Share your best make-ahead recipes in the comments!
Cranberry and Tart Cherry Compote via Epicurious
Bon Appétit November 2008