Thanksgiving Tradition I Broke and Paid For

Ready - set - unmold, but follow the directions!

Traditional Thanksgiving recipes are in place to greet and comfort us every last Thursday of November, gently reminding us we love our nation and family. Wrong. They are here because we know they work, and we know they can feed a crowd. A crowd of friends, family, and family that (sometimes) needs to be impressed. I broke this tradition by attempting to update my favorite cranberry dish. A satisfying slurry of fruit and sugar joined with jello. A dish that makes the turkey oh so tasty/sweet/sour/and moist where there is (most times) no moisture. I used apple juice in place of sugar, and hence the jello did not gel, and the cranberries tasted bitter. Also I tried dark cherry jello in place of the suggested flavors, which was too over-powering. Do not try that version, instead I present a recipe that works in all its sugary glory and tips on molding this cran glam salad.

Donabedian/Lyon Family Cranberry Salad

1 3 oz package of orange jello
1 3 oz package of raspberry jello
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 - 16 oz cranberries, picked over for bad ones
4 apples, quartered, cored (I like granny smith)
the fruit of 2 oranges
the peel of 1 orange
1 tblsp lemon juice

Pour the first 4 ingredients into a large saucepan or stock pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. This is the "kid job", if you let kids in your kitchen. Meanwhile chop the cranberries, apples, and orange peel with fruit in a food processor. Each in their own separate batches. If you don't have a food processor then grate the apples and orange peel, and chop chop chop the cranberries and orange fruit until fine. Add all of the chopped fruits and lemon juice to the dissolved jello and sugar mix.

Stir and pour to the very top of the jello mold. Cover the mold and allow to refrigerate, best if overnight. You will probably have some cranberry salad that does not fit in the mold, I like to put it in a bowl and eat it for breakfast. Can't get enough cranberries!

Only remove the salad just before you are ready to serve. Place on an attractive platter. Remove the lid, and place the platter, upside down on top of the mold. Quickly flip the mold over holding the platter firmly with one hand and the top of the mold with the over. My mold has a special "secret door" lid that comes off at this stage, releasing the tension, and allowing the salad to slip out. Generally jello is slippery and wants to follow gravity, so either way you shouldn't have problems. If your jello has set, you will have a glamorous undulating side dish. This is important because most people are afraid of cranberries, I find, and if you mold it into a fabulous shape they are more likely to try.

Flop side dish.

Moments after I snapped the picture above the cranberry salad completely lost all shape and became cranberry puddle. This entry represents a pretty lame failure that neither tastes right nor looks good. Normally such disappointments are not loaded here, but the lesson is important: use the traditional Thanksgiving directions.


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