It's almost time for the annual stuff your face and have a food coma celebration. I'm not doing the turkey this year since I have to travel back to the farm near Willmar Minnesota from the Twin Cities, but I did volunteer to do all the sides, which I don't mind doing.
Prepping ahead makes things so much easier, if you've never started prepping for Thanksgiving at least two days in advance, try it sometime. If I ask any chef I know that's making dinner for their family, you'd better believe that the flawless execution and ease of cranking out food for the whole family rests on prepping in advance, it's a part that professional restaurant training that will always linger, no matter if you're in a kitchen or not.
One of the easiest things to make ahead is fresh cranberry sauce. Don't get me wrong, the gelatinized ruby-red can loaf has a special place in my heart, and I'll crush half of one by myself if left to my own devices.
Fresh cranberry sauce though, is a more raw, natural way to present a hyper-seasonal ingredient. It functions so well with a caveman serving of turkey and all the fixings, the tartness balancing roasted meat and salty (hopefully butter-mounted) gravy, ensuring nobody's palate gets bored.
At a couple of the events I did this year, one of the dependable eye openers has been fruit sauces flavored with cow parsnip seeds / golpar. The seeds have this funky, citrus from another dimension aspect to them.
As well, they're a jaw dropping point of conversation when I explain, again and again to guests that "poison parsnip" is a derogatory mis-nomer for a few beautiful and fascinating species of plants, some of them having been enjoyed as a food source In North America and Europe, for a very long time.
Needless to say, fresh cranberry sauce flavored with the cow parsnip seeds is super fun, and one I've stashed away in the archives after I made it.
Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Cow Parsnip Seeds and Warm Spices
- 1.5 lbs fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons dried cow parsnip seeds
- 3 peels of orange zest peeled with a vegetable peeler
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 allspice berries
- 1 star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons water
- Toast the spices *except the cow parsnip seeds* (they don't like to be toasted) and reserve. Combine the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to simmer in a small sauce pan, about 2-3 qt capacity.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook on medium low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cranberries are broken down and soft.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a highspeed blender, then puree until very smooth. If you want a perfectly smooth sauce, pass it through a chinois strainer afterwords.
- If the sauce became too thick on the stove, thin it with a tablespoon of warm water at a time in the blender to help it puree.
- Transfer the sauce to a container, place plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent the oxidization and forming of a skin, chill, label, date, and reserve until needed.