November 15, 2012

YOU GUYS.  Thanksgiving is next week.  When the hell did that happen?

Seriously, I swear the holiday has snuck up on me this year (you too, perhaps?), but this is kind of a good thing.  It means, much like having only sixteen days notice to get ready for a baby, that I can’t overcomplicate things too much.  I can not plan my many plans.  I can’t over-think and re-think the menu, making things less fun and more fussy.  I can’t go overboard.

I know that “overboard” is normally what Thanksgiving is about, but this year I’m aiming for right at or above board instead.  I’ve got a turkey in the freezer, and I plan to try brining him (a first) before letting Jill roast him (she’s the expert in our house).  I’ve made the cranberry sauce you see here, and my mom and I are both craving pecan pie, so that’s on the docket.

Jill will probably whip up some of her famous deviled eggs, and I loved my friend Rebecca’s grandmother’s dinner rolls so much last year that I think I will have to make them again.  Mom makes a killer vegetarian dressing.  Throw in a couple of vegetables—butternut squash?  green beans?  beets? (I’m totally open to suggestions here)—and I think we will call it a day.

This year, I’m leaving the perfectly coordinated, picture-perfect, show-stopping Thanksgiving to someone else.   And for that, I feel truly grateful.


This cranberry sauce has the texture of a loose jelly and a very bright, sweet-tart cranberry flavor.  It’s dead simple to make and is a lovely addition to the Thanksgiving meal as well as to leftover turkey sandwiches (especially when paired with mayonnaise!).

I use port in my sauce, but you can substitute red wine, or even water.  Keeps very well in the fridge, so it’s great for making ahead of time.


1 (12 oz) bag cranberries
zest of 1 navel orange
juice from half of the orange (approximately 1/8 cup)
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup port*

Combine all ingredients in a deep saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.  As the sauce cooks, the cranberries will burst and break down, so I like to keep a lid partially covering the pan, to prevent splatter.

The sauce is ready when it has reduced by almost half and is quite thick in texture, sticking a little as it pulls away from the side of the saucepan while you stir.  Cool completely, then refrigerate before serving.

*If you’re feeling boozy, you can bump this amount up to ½ cup & drop the water down to ½ cup.  Any proportion will work as long as you end up with 1 cup of liquid total, plus the orange juice.

Along with cranberry sauce, here are some other ideas for your Thanksgiving table:


the aforementioned Grandma Nettie’s dinner rolls
sweet potato biscuits
cracked wheat rolls


deviled eggs
mushroom bruschetta
saffron/cauliflower soup


braised fennel with Meyer lemon & Parmesan
butternut squash risotto
stir-fried sweet potatoes with sage & brown butter


apple-pear crostada
McIntosh apple tart
poached pears with pomegranate



  1. We use a fresh turkey stuffed with my grandmother’s dirty rice dressing. Yum! I’m going to make your cranberry sauce and the dinner rolls along with a Rockin’ Lean Green Bean Casserole that was in this week’s Chronicle. Still planning the rest. Hope ya’ll have a great day!

    Comment by Deborah Melanson — November 15, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

  2. Not being American, we didn’t start celebrating Thanksgiving until we moved to Texas in 2004. In 2006, I brined a turkey and hosted dinner. Since leaving the US, we’ve been invited to T Day pot lucks and this year I will be happy to bring your cranberry sauce. If Jakarta has cranberries that is!!!!

    Comment by Emma — November 16, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  3. Love thanksgiving! Hope you have a great one…

    Here’sour menu
    Pistachio salad,,mashed potatoes, roasted butter nut squash, max and cheese,,rolls & tukey

    Apple pie and pecan pie with homemade ice cream

    Comment by Shailey — November 18, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  4. Hey Nish! My mama & I just made this for tomorrow’s Turkey Day dinner. I just tasted the finished product and it is AMAZING! Best homemade cranberry sauce I’ve ever had (and I tend to be picky about my cranberry sauce). The port is a great touch 🙂 Happy Turkey Day! and Happy (Almost) Birthday!!!!

    Comment by Lara — November 21, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

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