I am a big fan of stretching traditional menus. Regular Roasted Turkey is just great, but Smoked Turkey with a sage brine is better. Apple pie can’t be beat, except when you top it with a homemade Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream, a new twist I’m introducing this year. Casey is dressing up her tart Thanksgiving sauce, switching from cranberries to kumquats. And I just love it. -Maggie
The arrival of Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, a time when families gather to enjoy each other’s company, reminisce about years past and make memories to mark the current celebration. Much of this conviviality surround a common table—the area where food is placed and shared. Regardless of location, most Thanksgiving tables have the same common fixtures—warming foods that aren’t stuffy and gourmand, but instead approachable and satisfyingly simplistic.
My family’s Thanksgiving celebrations are genuinely predictable. My aunt mashes potatoes and bakes a corn casserole; my other aunt crafts a salad; my uncle makes pumpkin chiffon pie (our slightly more fancy preference to the classic dessert); and my family makes the following: two turkeys, orange and ginger-spiced cranberry sauce, tomato aspic, glazed carrots and blanched peas. We each bring our own addition to the table, knowing that because of the additions of other members, we will enjoy a well-prepared and delicious meal.
I recently moved to California, but I know that I will enjoy the same turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing with my family here this holiday. These flavors and dishes serve much the same role that our families do—a reminder that amidst all of the hubbub and hurry, there is always that same touchstone, a place to rest, a source of home.
This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite members of the Thanksgiving spread: cranberry sauce. No matter the smorgasbord that is on display each year, I can never deny myself a great spoonful of this tart, sweet relish. In California, kumquats grow naturally this time of year, and so I turned to this seasonal fruit to provide the same astringent sweetness. Spices familiar to holiday dishes provide a warming sensation, and are enlivened a bit more by a hint of chili powder. It might pair nice with an alternatively-dressed bird as well, perhaps a turkey or duck breast with a maple pistachio glaze. Use this chutney as a replacement or companion to cranberry sauce this year. It is always nice to welcome new friends, and new dishes, to the table.
Spiced Kumquat Compote
- 1 pound fresh kumquats, sliced thin, seeds removed
- ¼ cup raw cane sugar
- 2 T honey
- ½ t ground cinnamon
- ¼ t adobo chili powder
- 1/8 t cayenne chili powder
- 1/8 t cumin seeds, whole
- Zest of one lemon
- ½ in fresh ginger, skinned and finely grated
- Place the sliced kumquats in a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
- Pour over the sugar and honey, and stir to combine. Allow this mixture to cook until it has thickened slightly.
- Add all of the spices, zest and ginger, watching the amount of spice to personal preference.
- Lower the heat to low, and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the flavors have combined and married well.
- Place in a lovely serving dish and serve to friends and family!
Photos taken and styled by Casey Engleman.
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