One of my ovens broke. Fortunately, I have another oven, but on a day like Thanksgiving, you need them both. I should have seen it coming. We have been in our house for just over 5 years now, and it suddenly feels like we are characters in that movie The Money Pit, with everything falling apart at exactly the same time.
First, there was the seemingly simple-to-fix exposed extension cord, which reached from the wall-mounted television to the nearest outlet, four feet away. Appropriate for a frat house, perhaps, but not for the first room that our guests see when they arrive. All that we wanted was a new outlet installed directly behind the T.V., so that the cord would be neatly and attractively hidden. Not quite that easy. Three contractors later, we had a three foot long hole in the wall, where the cord is buried, still running to that same outlet. By comparison, the "frat-house" option looked like something out of House and Garden.
Then, Eric noticed a damp spot at the base of one of our exterior walls. Our plumber told us that we "probably had a leak somewhere." Ummm, thanks. I kind of figured as much, which is why we called you in the first place! He then proceeded to tell us that he would need to cut through the wall until he found the leak, possibly from both the inside and outside, even if it meant going all of the way to the top. My visions of this worst-case-scenario made the actual two-foot resulting hole not seem so bad, but it’s still no work of art.
If there’s an upside to my oven being broken (and I’m reaching here), it’s that I’m fairly certain that fixing the oven will not result with yet another hole in the wall, but you never know. I’m really hoping that, when the Whirlpool repairman arrives tomorrow, he approaches our problem with an I’ve seen this a million times before and I know exactly how to fix this confidence, but I’m not so sure. The problem is that the oven turns on…..by itself, but we cannot control the temperature, and we cannot turn it off unless we switch off the circuit breaker. There are no lights or timers indicating that the oven is on, but when you are hit by hot air after opening the door, there is no question. Maybe it’s possessed by ghosts of turkeys from Thanksgivings past?? Who knows? (Hopefully, Mr. Whirlpool knows.)
In the event of a one-oven Thanksgiving, it is nice to have several recipes that can either be prepared days ahead of time, or that can be prepared on the stovetop. We’ll have a large turkey this year (what’s a Thanksgiving without leftovers?), and he will have first dibs on the oven for most of the day, so I am trying to plan my menu accordingly. In lieu of last year’s creamed onions, which needed to be baked, I created this stove-top version, a lighter, jewel-toned, sweet and sour onion trio, glazed in ruby port. Port also shows up in this uniquely roasted sweet and spicy cranberry sauce, which can be made 4 days in advance. I like port. Although the addition of jalapenos seems like an odd combination, I was pleasantly surprised by how the sweet and spicy ingredients play off of each other. Here are my extra tips for this port-glazed pair of savory sides:
- The onions and shallots can be fully prepared up to one day in advance. Cover and chill, rewarming over low heat before serving.
- Instead of using pearl onions, which can be very labor-intensive to peel, you can substitute frozen and thawed cippolini onions (no need to blanch these, just start by adding them to the butter in the skillet). You can also cut red onions into wedges, keeping the ends intact, or you could opt for preparing the entire dish with shallots, which I find to be much easier to peel.
- For the cranberry recipe, if you don’t like spicy foods, be sure to see the jalapeno prior to slicing it. Peppers carry most of their heat in their seeds and veins, so removing these parts will add significantly less heat to the recipe.
- Grapeseed oil is similar to olive oil in terms of health benefits, but it has a much more neutral flavor. Feel free to substitute olive oil for the grapeseed oil.
- If you don’t have cinnamon sticks, simply add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the cranberry mixture prior to roasting.
- After Thanksgiving, both recipes can be incorporated into turkey sandwiches!
Port-Glazed Pearl Onions and Shallots
12 ounces red pearl onions
12 ounces small shallots
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/4 cups Port
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the unpeeled onions and shallots for 2-3 minutes; drain and cool. Carefully peel the onions and shallots, trimming off any roots.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and shallots to the skillet and stir to coat. Add the broth, Port, and vinegar to the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the onions and shallots are tender, 15 minutes.
Uncover the skillet and continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquids have been reduced to a glaze, 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cranberry Port Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
1 medium orange
2 tablespoons Port
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small jalapeno pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 450F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the peel from the orange using either a paring knife or a peeler. Cut the peel into thin strips, about 1 1/2 inches long. Squeeze 2 tablespoons orange juice from the orange into a medium bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of Port to the bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, combine the cranberries with the sugar, oil, salt, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and jalapenos; stir to mix. Transfer the cranberry mixture to the prepared baking sheet and roast until the cranberries begin to burst and release their juices, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the cranberry mixture to the bowl containing the orange juice and port; stir to mix. Let the mixture sit for at least 1 hour so that the flavors meld, stirring occasionally. Discard the cinnamon sticks and serve.