i'm spending christmas weekend with the final revisions of my manuscript for the upcoming book before it goes into copy editing. it's great to be up here in hope with the fire blazing and minimal interruptions. (incidentally after dinner the first night we watched a fantastic dvd which i highly recommend--Vitus.) so i made a whole bunch of our fav turkey parts to last the whole long weekend along with two huge bowls of stuffing (of course i made the bread). we have separate stuffings bc elliott doesn't like chestnuts and i adore the sweet earthy quality it contributes.
the big problem always is choosing the ideal wine to serve with turkey and the problem is not the turkey but the cranberry sauce. one of the few iron clad rules in wine pairing is that the wine needs to be at least as sweet as the food or the wine takes on an undesirably bitter taste. tim hanai, who worked for beringer's, taught me how it is possible to adjust the food to alter the wine. for example, when the wine seems excessively tannic, if you add lemon and or salt to the food the tannin recedes and the fruit comes forward. (i've used this technique in airplanes where the wine was marginal. it has the opposite effect if the wine is "flabby," i.e. lacking in acid and tannis.) when in comes to cranberry sauce, i have always catered entirely to elliott's taste which means a lot less liquid and a lot less sugar than is called for on the package. in fact, he doesn't want it to be sauce, he wants it to be a jell. it seems bitter when eaten by itself but it works perfectly with the turkey and i decided to put it to the ultimate test and served a Gevrey Chambertin Domaine Trapet “Ostera” 2001. pinot is the most unforgiving wine. it can be at once ethereal and earthy, or closed and astringent. i took a little spoonful of cranberry 'sauce' and a swallow of the wine and held my breath (well not literally). perfection. the wine was glorious with a hint of berry--a match made in heaven.
so here is how i make the cranberry sauce:
for a little over 2 cups 1-12 ounce/340 grams package/3 -1/4 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed and picked over) 1/2 cup water 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/6.2 ounces/175 grams sugar a pinch of salt 1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water with the sugar and pinch of salt and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the cranberries and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (It will look like there's not enough water but as the berries burst it becomes more liquidy.)
Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, and refrigerate until serving.
Keeps: 1 month or more refrigerated, several months frozen.