It's just not Thanksgiving without these three fruits.
Tart, jammy sauces and mile-high pies are reason enough to love fall cranberries, apples, and pears. These fruits also have a savory side that's worth exploring, from cider-infused turkey to a tangy cranberry and onion jam (amazing on post-Thanksgiving Day sandwiches). Use extra fresh fruits to decorate the table in reds, greens, and golds.
A wet brine infuses the bird with apple flavor and plumps up the meat so it won’t dry out in the oven. Brining your own turkey also lets you control the sodium from start to finish. Line a roasting pan with the brining bag before adding the liquid and the turkey so everything stays in place. To make a quick gravy, strain the fat from the drippings and discard, then reduce the drippings with 21/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour until thickened.
Pears are at their peak in late fall and their firm texture is ideal for baking. Here we fold them into a classic sourdough stuffing with plump golden raisins and fresh sage. A little thick-cut bacon goes a long way here, leaving just enough drippings in the pan to sauté the vegetables. You could also use diced pancetta (such as Boar’s Head). Look for a whole-wheat sourdough loaf from the bakery section—the thick crust and hearty texture will absorb more liquid.
This jam is an excellent, refined sugar-free alternative to the traditional, often too-sweet sauce, and tastes even better a day or two after it’s made. Because fresh cranberries are so tart on their own, be sure to use a sweet onion such as Vidalia in the jam. Pair this condiment with your Thanksgiving plate, then use as a sandwich spread for holiday leftovers.
A quick homemade caramel sauce that’s folded into fresh apple slices and baked in a whole-grain crust takes this classic holiday pie to the next level. A hint of salt in the sauce intensifies the apple flavor and balances the sweetness. Apples contain a natural thickener called pectin; grating some of the fruit will ensure a gooey, cohesive mixture once baked. Crisp, sweet Fuji apples bake beautifully and will contrast the salty caramel. You can also use Cripps Pink or Honeycrisp apples.