We asked our food editors to test and retest the Thanksgiving classics: to compare Idaho potatoes to German Butterballs, to weigh the merits of whole birds against cooking in parts. And we asked them to do it while filming Making Perfect, a six-part video series documenting every success and setback. Somehow, it all worked out...perfectly. Here’s how the Fancy Cranberry Sauce came together.
The Dream Team
Andy Baraghani and Brad Leone
For some inexplicable reason (let’s blame DNA and nostalgia), the staff of Bon Appétit has a thing for canned cranberry sauce. But they can’t get behind the preservatives and all that corn syrup.
Brad and Andy dreamed of a sauce as sliceable and jiggly and fun as the canned stuff, but with deeper fruit flavor and more nuance. It’s subtly spiced with bay leaves and cardamom, then set in a gelatin mold that your cousins will never see coming and crowned with sugary orange zest and cranberries. “This will be polarizing,” says Andy. “I’m fine with it.”
Face Off: Smooth vs. Textured
Brad prefers a smoother bite, so he tried a version that put the cranberry mixture through a food mill. But Andy wanted real fruit texture, so they left the cranberry mixture as is and doubled down with tiny cranberry galaxies floating in jelly. Brad wanted to use pectin to create a sort of “set jam,” Andy preferred a wobbly gelatin. Somehow Andy kept getting his way.
Brad Stans Canned Sauce
He grew up with the stuff, he can’t help it. “There was something in that can that had a little grit to it,” he says. “And it’s not like transparent Jell-O. It’s murky and purple and beautiful.”
The Mold Never Gets Old...
This is your once-yearly chance to dust off that gelatin mold you inherited from Great-Uncle Albert (he was into suspended fruit salads, so what?). But beware a mold that’s very intricate—too many little nooks and crannies and indentations will make it more difficult for the jelly to slide out. Lacking a Great-Uncle Albert? Sorry to hear it. The best molds are vintage, so peruse Etsy until you find the shape of your dreams. Yes, French ice cream molds will also work—thanks for asking. And before pouring in your cranberry mixture, don’t forget to coat the tin with nonstick spray.
...But You Can Bundt If You Wanna
For aesthetic and historically accurate (and clearly personal) reasons, Andy insisted on using an old-school mold, which doesn’t have a hole in the center and thus makes bigger, more dramatic slices. But a Bundt pan also makes a totally fantastic gelatin mold! If you’re bundting, we like the nonstick Anniversary Bundt pan from Nordic Ware.
How to Serve It
On your finest vintage china, cutting each serving into a thin wedge as you would cake.
Get the recipe:
For more Absolutely, Positively Perfect Thanksgiving menu ideas:
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Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit