In my prior post for Thanksgiving week, I promised to post a number of my favorite vintage Thanksgiving postcards, most of the postmarked between 1907 and 1910, and some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  This installment is a little late for Thanksgiving but all of these dishes work wonderfully with turkey or roast beef for Christmas.

World’s Best Cranberry Sauce

The first recipe, which I borrowed from Emeril Lagasse, is for the best cranberry sauce ever made. If it is not as much as you want, you can double or triple the ingredients without any problem. 

Mix the following Ingredients a good sauce pan:

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1/4 cup Ruby Port
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for a couple of hours.  Use potato masher to break up cranberries.

If it is not thick enough for your taste, simmer longer or add a tablespoon of cornstarch, mixed with water.  You can make and refrigerate two or three days in advance.

King’s Arm Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is from King’s Arm Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.  Sweet potatoes can be hit or miss but most folks seems to like these.

Boil 3 pounds of sweet potatoes until tender–fork ‘em–and let cool until you can easily peel them.  Put peeled potatoes into a stand mixer with following ingredients and mix well. 

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

You can double or triple ingredients if desired.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer.   When well mixed, put into buttered casserole pan, sprinkle with reserved brown sugar, and cover with aluminum foil.  You can kick it up a notch, to use Emeril’s favorite phrase, by topping with a half cup of roughly chopped pecans.  You can make it to this stage the day before and put into refrigerator. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place in oven for about 30 minutes, removing foil for last ten minutes.  Serve in same dish.

All-Time Favorite Creamed Corn

There are lots of different side dishes that work for Thanksgiving, and you can be tempted to rotate them.  Having once failed to include this dish, however, I will never do so again.  It is inexpensive, quick and works as a side for both turkey and roast beef at Christmas.

In a medium sauce pan, mix the following ingredients over medium heat.

  • Two 20-ounce packages of frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt (preferably Kosher)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Accent

Bring to a boil, then lower temperature and cook until it thickens.  If you double recipe, reduce milk by about a quarter cup.  (The Accent, which is MSG, increases flavor but is completely optional.) 

As the corn thickens, mix two tablespoons melted butter and two tablespoons flour (a “roue”) and add to corn, stirring until flour is cooked through and sauce is thickened.  If the sauce seems too thin, be aware that you will see a dramatic thickening after you add and cook the roue.

A common variation is to pour the creamed corn into a casserole pan, sprinkle a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese on top, and place under broiler until cheese melts.  

Sliced Carrots and Candied Pecans

This dish has two parts–sliced, sauteed carrots that should be timed so they are tender when dinner is served, and candied pecans that are made the night before stirred into the carrots just before serving.  As with the other recipes, you will want to double or triple the recipe depending on the number of guests. 

Candied Pecans

Place ½ cup whole, shelled pecans into a small nonstick pan and warm in oven at 250 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes.   Remove pan from oven, place on stove over medium heat and add two tablespoons light corn syrup, one tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, stirring until well mixed.   Return pan to oven and cook for sixty minutes, stirring occasionally. 

After removing from oven, add two tablespoons butter and let it melt.  As pecans cool, the candy coating will harden.  As this occurs, use two forks to separate pecans into individual pieces.  When pecans have cooled and separated, set aside for the next day.

Sliced Carrots

Slice one pound of peeled carrots about 1/8 inch thick.  For presentation, you should cut them on the bias; for speed, you can use food processor to cut into pieces the size of a quarter.  For ease, you can now buy carrots that have been sliced into attractive pieces.

Zest and juice one orange.  In large, lidded saucepan mix the carrots, orange juice, three tablespoons water, two teaspoons sugar, one tablespoon butter, one teaspoon salt (correcting to see if more is needed when dish is complete), and ¼ teaspoon white pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low for about five minutes; most of the liquid should have evaporated.  Stir in orange zest and cook uncovered until carrots are tender but not mushy.    Stir in the candied pecans and serve in a bowl or casserole dish.