Monday, November 23, 2009

My Cranberry Sauce

I was an adult before I realized that cranberry sauce does not only come from a a can shape...with the indentation of can rings.  When I was growing up, we always had it sliced cleanly on a serving platter.  Pristine little disks of dark cranberry jelly reclining on their backs.  And I could take it or leave it.

When I was 23, I started working at Pasta and Co.  My first job was front of house in the downtown Seattle location.  I made espresso and omelettes and served caesar salads and diet cokes to skinny office workers.  But, this was also my introduction to a commercial kitchen (however tiny!), moist, perfect carrot cake, and real cranberry sauce...among other things.  I was home.

Pasta and Co.'s cranberry sauce has been a holiday staple in my life ever since.  My family has come to think of it as Jen's Cranberry Sauce and so have I.  I agree with Katy that when you make something enough, it becomes yours.

As you have no doubt put together by now, I am not a measuring kind of cook or a clock watcher.  It's done when it's done.  How much salt?  Until it tastes right.  Cranberry sauce is no different for me.  There are all kinds of variations and I probably never make it the same way twice.  This year I made a big batch and canned enough to give as gifts to my Thanksgiving guests (cranberries are quite high in pectin and are an ideal candidate for canning).  Here are the proportions for this year's batch:

3 bags fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
2 c. sugar
2 ea 10 oz. jars red currant jelly
2 c. water
2 c. dried sour cherries
1 c. port wine

The recipe calls for a smallish amount of rum at the finish, but I was out, so I changed it up (I've been known to do that) with port added during the cooking. 

Place all ingredients in a pot (yes, that's my new dutch oven!!).  Bring to a boil over medium heat, and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.   Feel free to substitute cranberry juice for the water in the recipe above.  I might also increase the port and add it a little later as it is a bit lost in the finished sauce. You get to hear the marvelous sounds of the popping berries as it simmers away.  Remove from heat and cool in the fridge when it reaches a consistency and flavor you like. 

I was going through some recipes in the paper the other day and ran across this.  I guess P and Co. cranberry sauce is a Seattle tradition!

Pasta and Co. has new owners and different locations now and I cannot bear to set foot inside.  I cooked and helped customers at five different P & Co. shops for over four years while I attended culinary school and then finished my bachelor's.  My boyfriend during that time was the head pasta maker.  The team made fresh pasta six days a week on big Italian machines with brass dyes that were forever breaking down, like little Fiats.  I think they outsource it now...cost savings or something like that.  There was something special about the staff, the customers and the owners that's gone now. 

Thankfully, we'll always have the cranberry sauce.  My cranberry sauce.

1 comment:

  1. okay - this is great and all. but i'm serious about the mashed potatoes and the cooking time line. can you make stuffing ahead of time. our guest list has now gone up to 11 plus a baby. i'm FREAKIN' out.