Fresh Cranberry & Mint Sauce (and other Thanksgiving tales)

Once upon a time there was a condiment that not only went well with turkey, but could also be drunk as a cocktail. Seriously. The tartness of the cranberries, and the burst of citrus and mint would be even better with champagne or rum. This is how it works:

In a food processor, simply place a big handful of fresh cranberries. Add half of a whole tangerine (yes, peel and all) that you’ve cut into several pieces. Add a few tablespoons of maple syrup (you can always taste and add more later). Add a handful of fresh mint leaves. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until its consistency makes you happy. Taste. Add some more maple syrup if it’s too tart. Before serving, stir in some grapefruit segments and any extra juice. Serve as a condiment with turkey (or other meat). Or place mixture in the bottom of champagne flutes and fill with champagne to the top, or make a cranberry version of a mojito!

On our Thanksgiving table this year we had cranberry sauce 3 ways. This was obviously one of them. My brother made a spicy cranberry sauce that had been simmered with some rocoto peppers. And my mom made a sweet cranberry sauce that was studded with pomegranate seeds.

Instead of place cards on our Thanksgiving table, my brother and I collected fresh figs from my parents’ fig tree outside. I wrote everyone’s names using a silver permanent marker and used them as “place figs.”

To get the Thanksgiving festivities underway, we tasted the second batch of my brother Lars’s beer — this time a Scottish Ale — and oh my gosh it was so good!

Look at that beautiful foam on top!

And it tasted so delicious with the spiced nuts and a cheese plate.

I swear the food was extra-delicious this year, probably because this was our first “real” Thanksgiving in two years. You may remember last year when we were living in Japan, we had to roast a chicken breast in lieu of turkey. Here are the beautifully golden turkeys that were slow cooked in the smoker all afternoon.

The smokiness complimented the corn-bread and chorizo stuffing that my mom made, using the recipe in the 2008 November issue of Gourmet. The stuffing on the right was made with cubes of focaccia with bits of roasted lemon that gave bursts of flavor with every bite.

Yes, I fit a ridiculous amount of food on my plate. But I had to try a little of everything, clockwise from top: smoked turkey (dark meat, please!) with gravy, roasted beet salad with mustard vinaigrette, arugula salad, stuffing with roasted lemon, corn-bread and chorizo stuffing, sautéed sliced brussel sprouts with garlic and bacon, creamed pearl onions with thyme, roasted butternut squash with sage, and last (but not least) Lars’s garlic mashed potatoes.

Good thing I saved room for dessert, because we had an entire line of pies to choose from that my Uncle Rick made: Chocolate cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, and pecan. And yes, I had a (small) slice of each. They were exquisite!!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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