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Cranberry Port Ring (Jellied Cranberry Sauce)

Cranberry Port Ring
I've mentioned my fear of the jiggly cylinder that had a prime spot on the Thanksgiving tables of my youth before, but recently I decided to look at it in a new light. I know some pretty diehard fans of jellied cranberry sauce. Like my grandma, they have special serving dishes made specifically to fit that "can" shape when laid down on its side. They slice it ever just so, stacking a disk or two lovingly on their plate.

I decided that it was time to reevaluate my position on the stuff. After all, I didn't think that I liked cranberries at all as a kid unless they were in the form of juice or chewy dried bits, but it turns out that I actually can't get enough of them. For the past 20 years, that bowl of glistening ruby goodness that is whole-berry cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things on the table. And yet, I've seen the faces on some of my older family members when they realize that, once again, there is no can-shaped sauce to be found.

First of all, I asked myself why. Why didn't I like it? Could I remember actually ever eating it? What was it that I didn't like. I mean, I've always loved finger jello (what we called Jello Jigglers)...and isn't that basically what jellied cranberry sauce is—an invitation to eat finger jello for dinner!?
Cranberry Port Ring
So, when during my yearly gather-and-scour-of-every-Thanksgiving-magazine-I-can-get-my-hands-on-extravaganza, I came across a recipe for a molded, jellied cranberry sauce and resolved to try it. My favorite whole berry sauce uses red wine (which is perfection), and this one included Port in its list of ingredients, so I figured that it couldn't be all that bad.

As it turns out, I DO like jellied cranberry sauce. Although I didn't form it into the shape of a can, the festive ring-mold offered up what I imagine is the same slicing satisfaction. I totally get wanting to slice and stack it lovingly on the plate, nestled amongst the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, et al.

I've walked in on my husband eating a bowl piled high with the stuff several times now, and my daughter declared that I'd better make an entire ring just for her this year. My boys just gave me a look when I offered them some, but they're still opposed to cranberry sauce as a whole, so that is a fence to climb at another date. I think I deserve to drop the mic.
Cranberry Port Ring

Cranberry Port Ring
Please the jellied cranberry sauce lovers at your Thanksgiving table with this homemade version that incorporates Port, cinnamon, and ginger.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes + overnight in fridge
Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Keywords: side condiment dairy-free nut-free soy-free cranberries Port Christmas Thanksgiving American fall winter
Ingredients (serves 12)
  • 6 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 (1/4-inch) slices of ginger, unpeeled
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 3 1/4 cups cold water, divided
  • 1 cup ruby Port, divided
  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • vegetable oil, for greasing the mold
Combine cranberries, sugar, ginger and cinnamon sticks with 2 1/2 cups of the water and 3/4 cups of the port in a large saucepot set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking until all the cranberries have popped, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, put 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a decorative gelatin mold with the vegetable oil.

Set a fine-mesh strainer (or a medium-mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth) over a large bowl. Pour the cranberry mixture into the strainer, pressing down on the solids to release all of the juice (the solids can be discarded).

Stir the gelatin mixture into the warm cranberry juice until it is completely dissolved, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of port and 1/4 cup of water.

Pour into the prepared gelatin mold, then slide into the refrigerator and let sit overnight, or up to 4 days (covered once cool).

To serve, set your serving plate face-down over the open portion of the mold and quickly invert the mold and the plate, so that the plate is on the bottom, removing the mold.

-slightly adapted from Good Housekeeping Magazine, November 2015

Thanksgiving dishes so good you should drop the mic
Thanksgiving dishes so good, you deserve to drop the mic just for making them (from some F'in Fab Food Bloggers):