Taking my cue from caterers and restaurants, I’m a huge believer in advance prep of anything that keeps well or even improves in flavor over a few days. My Thanksgiving menu for 10 this year once again includes numerous dishes that succeed with advance prep, and one new one – a twist on our standby garlic mashed potatoes. This year, a prep-ahead mashed potato casserole off the NYT cooking site, which I’ll do with unpeeled red-skin potatoes instead of their recommended yukon golds.
Nine days away, and I just took the cranberry pear chutney off the stove to cool. This is one menu mainstay that’s far more interesting and versatile than any cranberry sauce or relish, homemade or store-bought. A surprise to those who’ve not had it before and expect the jellied stuff from Ocean Spray. This dish has been on my menu since Gourmet first published it in 1991, and of course I’ve altered it to make it just a teeny bit better:
CRANBERRY PEAR CHUTNEY
Combine the following in a 2-1/2 or 3 quart heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes:
12 ounce pkg cranberries; 6tbs dark brown sugar and 2 tbsp grade B maple syrup; grated zest of one lemon; 1/2 cup golden raisins; 1 cup chopped onion; 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (Reed’s is best); 2 Comice pears peeled and chopped; 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1 tsp brown mustard seeds; 1/8 tsp salt; pinch of red pepper flakes.
It will thicken as it cooks down, and even more once refrigerated. Cool and refrigerate in a covered glass dish – serve at room temperature.
More about the rest of the menu as the week progresses. Thinking now about making that spiced pumpkin bread and freezing it.