Every Wednesday, my Norwegian family gathers for dinner at mormor’s (my Norwegian grandma’s) house. She says hosting dinner is the perfect way to guarantee that she sees her busy kids and grandkids. This week, I gave her a break from dinner prep. Since it’s my first Thanksgiving overseas since I was little, I wanted to share some American traditions with the family. Mormor spent the day knitting in the living room as I whirled around the kitchen. I heard her say to morfar (my grandpa) “isn’t it so nice to have servants who can prepare dinner!”
Paprika Thyme Roasted Turkey
Cranberry Cherry Port Gelée
Sautéed Shallot Green Beans
Roasted Sweet Potato Bites
Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes
Grandma Carole’s Creamed Corn
Oatmeal Apple Crisp
Homemade Whipped Cream
Sparkling Apple Cider
Usually my job on Thanksgiving is to make dessert. I was originally determined to make pumpkin pie. What is more quintessentially fall in America than a pumpkin dessert? The entire country goes through a pumpkin craze each year. But, whenever I talk about pumpkin desserts in Norway I'm met with skeptical expressions. I went to supermarkets, garden shops, specialty health food stores in several towns, but there wasn’t a pumpkin to be found. Well thats not completely true, I found baby food at a specialty store and considered using it in pumpkin pie for a split second. A couple stores had imported pumpkins for halloween, which has just recently been adopted from America, but those pumpkins disappeared along with any decor in fall colors. Except for the ads boasting “Black Friday” sales, there is no sign of importing the American Thanksgiving. The stores are already ready for Christmas.
I wanted to make a traditional turkey dinner featuring our family favorites, but I also love trying new flavors and decided to give some of the dishes a twist. After I dry-brined the turkey Tuesday night and roasted sweet potatoes, I ran two recipes by mormor — your basic cranberry sauce and Cranberry Port Gelée. She said “ooh the second one sounds much better, there’s port in the basement.” But, before she could finish morfar interjected and said “no, use the homemade cherry liquor, don’t open the port.” Years ago my great aunt brought loads of cherries from Hardanger, a region father north in Norway, famous for its majestic fjord and amazing produce. They made three bottles of cherry liquor which have been aging in the basement ever since. I was excited to try the homemade liquor, in my opinion it is more exclusive than store bought port. The syrupy, deep burgundy liquor was sweet, and oh so delicious! It made for the best cranberry sauce I've had.
Even without a pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving feast turned out to be quite tasty. I think the fact that my morfar, a man of few words, served himself thirds must mean it was pretty good. We all ate more than enough, and even though Norwegians aren't familiar with Thanksgiving traditions, in typical Thanksgiving fashion, we all ended up lounging on the couch looking and laughing at picture albums from the years when we were just tiny adorable things.
I hope you also have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And, if you haven't made cranberry sauce just yet, the recipe below is fantastic!
Cranberry Cherry Port Gelée
Adapted from the Canal House Cookbook
Makes about 1 cup
½ cup Port (or Red Wine) I used mormor’s homemade Cherry Liquor
⅓ cup Sugar
½ tbsp Dry Juniper Berries
5 Black Peppercorns
8oz (230g) Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
In a saucepan, bring put the wine, sugar, juniper berries, and peppercorns to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries break open and are very soft, about 10 minutes.
Strain the cranberry sauce through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Break open the berries by pushing them through the sieve with a rubber spatula. Discard the skins. Stir the gelée until well combined. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl. Cover and cool until firm. This can be made several days in advance.