It’s that time of year again, when the Pepperidge Farm folks stock supermarkets with zillions of bags of cubed styrofoam for Thanksgiving turkey stuffing. The only good thing about Pepperidge Farm stuffing is that you’re never tempted to eat more than a modest helping, so it’s not fattening. Southern cornbread stuffing, on the other hand, causes people to get out of bed the night after Thanksgiving and stand in front of the refrigerator and eat it cold. If other people in the house hear the tell-tale crinkle of foil being removed from a bowl of real southern cornbread stuffing, they’ll leap out of bed and go make sure some hog doesn’t eat it all. Sometimes entire families stand around in their pajamas in the middle of the night eating cold cornbread dressing.
Don’t be alarmed, I’m not going to give you a recipe for it. I understand that it’s a lot easier to use the styrofoam cubes, and if you cover them with enough gravy, they’ll go down okay. But I will give you a recipe for whole cranberry sauce that will make you famous in your own time.
Whole Cranberry Sauce
In a large saucepan, mix together half as much sugar and water as the instructions call for on a bag of cranberries. Figure one bag per 2 or 3 people, double or triple as needed.
Cut a small orange or tangerine in half, and stud the skin with 4 or 5 whole cloves. Put it in the water and sugar mix. (No matter how many bags of cranberries you use, one orange or tangerine will do.)
Throw in 2 or 3 sticks of cinnamon.
Boil the whole thing for about 5 minutes. Stir it so the sugar doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan.
Dump in the cranberries that you’ve picked over to make sure there are no dead ones.
Stir and turn the berries from the bottom so all of them contact the liquid. It will look like you don’t have enough water. Don’t worry, it’s OK.
Boil on medium high until a lot of berries burst and lovely cranberry foam rises.
Turn off the heat, let it cool. Stir it to disappear the foam, and refrigerate.
You can make this a week ahead of time. Before you serve it, take out the orange or tangerine halves and the sticks of cinnamon. You’ll be sorry if you don’t make enough to put on turkey sandwiches later. Keep it refrigerated and it will stay good for 2 or 3 weeks.