I stroll through my modest gardens as Thanksgiving approaches. I am grateful for the vegetables that continue to grace the garden and will make their way to my Thanksgiving table. We join many cultures around the world who give thanks to the harvest and to those who toiled to bring the harvest to fruition.
As much as I love turkey, this year, with only four of us, I am turning my sites to seared duck breast. The trick to great duck breast is scoring the fat, seasoning the breast, and starting it in a cold skillet. The cold allows the fat to gradually release. It takes about 15 minutes. Save the duck fat to roast potatoes later in the year. After all the fat has been released, remove the fat to a heat-proof container and place the skillet in a 350 oven for 10 – 12 minutes. Let the duck rest for 10 minutes and slice on the diagonal.
To accompany the duck, I am using a Cranberry-Port Conserve with Pecans and Raisins from Topp & Howard. It is a rich, tart-sweet condiment with the hint of Port in the background.
Cranberry-Port Conserve with Pecans & Raisins
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed if frozen)
¾ cup Port wine
½ cup finely chopped peeled orange
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)
Combine cranberries, sugar, and port in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil uncovered and cook until berries pop. Add orange and raisins. Return to a boil, reduce heat and boil uncovered for about 15 minutes until a gel is reached. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
Ladle into hot jars and process in a water-bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Rest for five minutes. Yield is 4 cups.
From the garden will be the first course of an arugula and beat salad. For vegetables, I am adding the last of my green beans with sauteed red peppers. I have beautiful leeks so I will make scalloped leeks with butter and cream. And, mashed sweet potatoes with brown butter and chopped sage, with crispy fried whole sage leaves as a compliment. My daughter-in-law is bringing an apple tart!
Giving thanks to the harvest, to friends and to our families who share this special time of year.