November 15, 2010

Let’s face it, turkey isn’t the tastiest of the proteins we serve. Compared to something like lamb or even roast chicken, turkey pales. But it does serve one fantastic purpose – it’s a great foil for condiments. That’s why I like to have several different sauces and chutneys on the Thanksgiving table, and especially, available the day after for leftover sandwiches. Oh, those sandwiches. My mouth is watering.

While I have some chutneys canned, there are others that I make fresh for the occasion. I look for condiments that can be made ahead and held for a few days. I made three of those condiments today – tapenade, onion confit and cranberry sauce.

I’ll look around the refrigerator for stray containers of olives and make a quick tapenade (clean the fridge and make a quick party food all at once!) Easiest with a food processor, but also possible to do by hand or with a mezzaluna,


Olive Tapenade

1/2# olives, pitted
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
lemon zest from one lemon, preferably in strips
lemon juice
3 T chopped fresh parsley
olive oil

Combine all but the olive oil in the food processor and pulse until as chunky as you personally prefer. I like to still see pieces of olive. Stream in the olive oil until it forms a spreadable paste. Store in a glass jar for a month or more.

Variation: This is also quite nice with roasted garlic. Wrap an entire head of garlic in foil and roast at 425° for 40 min. Squeeze out the roasted goodness and add to about 1# of mixed olives and the other ingredients and 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary.


There also will be a very simple cranberry sauce, the one I grew up with. This cranberry sauce is something like a jam, sort of a preserves. It’s tart, because cranberries have plenty of pectin, it’s a soft set (a little runny), and it’s exceptionally good on a leftover turkey sandwich. It holds in the refrigerator for a month and freezes beautifully.

Last year, I added this superb Tuscan Onion Confit from Food52. I adapted it just very slightly by adding 2 tsp. fresh thyme. It’s heavenly, easy to make (I cheat and use frozen small white onions) and holds happily in the refrigerator for a month or more. If it lasts that long.

The day before Thanksgiving, I’ll make celeriac remoulade, carrot and currant salad, roasted beet and chive salad, (I’ll post those recipes here very soon), and my friend Liz’ cucumber side.

You can be sure there will be plenty of pickles from the pantry – dill, sweet, garlic, beet, jalapeno and red onion. And chutneys.

Seriously, my mouth is watering.

What condiments will you have on your Thanksgiving table?


Simple Whole Cranberry Sauce

1 bag organic cranberries
1 c white sugar
1 c water
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange

In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, water and orange zest and juice until boiling. Add the cranberries and boil for about 12 minutes. Store in a glass bowl or jar in the refrigerator.


18 Responses to “condiments & cranberry sauce”

  1. merry jennifer

    We have every Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. As weird as it seems, they love that cranberry sauce out of the can. In fact, my mom likes it best when it still has its can-shape, sliced into rounds. It’s pretty gross and I refuse to eat it. It’s so traditional at our home that I’m not sure I can break them of their canned cranberry sauce habit, but I might just give yours a try. Their cranberry sauce is one tradition I’d LOVE to see go by the wayside.

    • Cathy

      This recipe has converted several canned-is-best people … it’s quite simple. Let me know if you give it a try!?

  2. Allison

    The onion confit looks wonderful. I cannot seem to find those small white frozen onions anywhere near me though 🙁

    I always bring homemade apple sauce to Thanksgiving dinner. (We live on an orchard!) And this year, I am adding Upside-down Cranberry Cake.

    • Cathy

      It never occurred to me to put out apple sauce, but that makes complete sense. I’ll open up a jar in your honor, Allison! Thanks.

  3. Sara

    Thank you for the fresh cranberry sauce recipe! I always end up using the canned ones, just out of laziness. But this year I will try your recipe! 🙂

  4. joey

    This is our family’s favorite cranberry sauce – from Bon Appetit magazine about 20 years ago.
    Native American Cranberry Sauce
    1-1/2 C maple syrup
    1/2 C water
    1 t ground ginger
    4 C fresh cranberries
    bring syrup, water, and ginger to a boil in heavy 2-1/2 qt sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in cranberries. Simmer until berries begin to pop. Turn into bowl and cool. Can be prepared 3 days before.

    • Cathy

      I love this recipe! The maple syrup and ginger – inspired! I’m definitely going to make a batch of this. Thanks, Joey!

  5. Eris

    Cathy, I’m so excited to try some of these recipes and give Thanksgiving a little pizazz! Thanks for sharing:))

  6. Laura Bell

    Thank you, thank you ! I’ve never understood why anyone serves the canned cranberry jelly. It tastes like the can it came in ! Over the years I’ve done what I can to show as many friends as possible what real cranberry sauce is all about. Thank you for enlightening so many !

  7. Mr H

    Having grown up in Maryland, with Baltimore roots, no Thanksgiving is complete without sauerkraut. It’s as important as stuffing & cranberry sauce. (The homemade sauce is great, but don’t knock the can!)

    But the best part of Thanksgiving is leftover turkey sandwiches!



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