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What Not To Do With A Bottle Of Port

My mom and I have been making the same freaky cranberry sauce for over a decade.  Nobody likes it but we make it anyway because that’s how family traditions work:  you keep doing something weird, and you do it out of love–or a least benign inertia.

In this case, you dump half a bottle of port into a pot of cranberries and wait for the cranberries to explode.  It’s not complicated unless a rogue cranberry flies up and hits you in the eyeball (Thanksgiving 2009) or the pot spills over while you’re in the garage looking for more beer (Thanksgiving 2003, 2011).

The problem with dumping that much port into anything is port is pretty flammable.  Leave the cranberry sauce too close to a candle and you’ll have yourself a festive STOP-DROP-AND-ROLL situation.  (Thanksgiving 2005).

The port also makes the cranberry sauce taste weird, so nobody eats it.  It just sits in the middle of the table and wiggles like a 3-year-old who has to pee.  And that’s my real problem with the cranberry sauce: it’s basically impossible to look at it without reliving this conversation from your childhood–

PARENT:     Do you have to pee?

SELF:     Nope.

PARENT:     Are you sure?  You kinda look like you have to pee.

SELF:     Nuh-uh NO I DON’T I DO NOT.

[pause.]

[pees.]

So you know what I’m not going to do?  Lay the godforsaken cranberry sauce recipe on you.  And I’ve never cooked a turkey or even a chicken, so that’s not happening either.

But I did make homemade butter this week and it was pretty awesome.  It took less than 10 minutes and made me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It tasted fresh and creamy and was the most lovely shade of palest yellow-white.

I used a food processor but if you have kids who like to help with dinner, you could put the cream and salt in a tightly-sealed tupperware and let them shake it as long as they can.  If they don’t make it further than whipped cream, you can finish the job in a food processor.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Homemade Butter {Download & Print Recipe}

Inspired by many

Ingredients:

1/2 pint (1 c.) heavy cream

1/4 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. salt (I used coarse-grained sea salt)

a medium bowl of ice water

Directions:

Pour the cream and salt in a food processor or blender and blend at medium to high speed until lumpy curds form and start sticking together.  At this point, the  liquid remaining in the processor should look like skim milk; if it’s thicker than that, keep blending.  Depending on the speed you’re using, this could take 4-6 minutes.   In the meantime, put some ice cubes in a medium bowl and fill the bowl with water.

Dump the butter into a strainer to get rid of the milky liquid (the whey).  Transfer the butter to a bowl (I used a cereal bowl) and pour ice water on it until the butter is submerged.  Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, press down on the butter to release the remaining whey.  The whey will turn the water cloudy.  When the water gets cloudy, pour it out and add more fresh ice water.  Repeat 3 or 4 times, until the water stays clear when you smush the butter around.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the butter to a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log.  Chill it for 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator.  The log will be a little wet, but you can carefully mop up any water droplets with a clean paper towel before serving.  To serve, cut the log into slices (or however you wish) and serve on a little dish or saucer or in a ramekin, sprinkling with a little salt if you like.  (I like to do this because salt goes so well with the sweet creaminess of homemade butter.)

~~~

Synchronized sleeping!

61 Comments Post a comment
  1. OMG – Hilarious! Our family had a tradition of passing this fruit cake (had to be older than dirt) back and forth every year. Our cat go into one year and ended up taking her to the vet to get her back on track after eating it – poor kitty. Glad no human decided to try a bite. Family traditions – gotta love them!!! Happy Tuesday:)

    November 20, 2012
    • Oh, the poor cat! The fruitcake is one tradition we have not adopted yet. Sounds like we should try to keep it that way…

      November 20, 2012
  2. C’mon Kate, I’ve found that being the The Turkey Maker (it’s a Honoris Causa degree) bestows great importance, reverence and a place at the head of the table. My reason for doing it is that it really requires the least amount of work. If and it’s an important IF, you use a baking bag, total time spent prepping a turkey (or chicken for lesser occasions) is about 20 min. Sit back have a beer or 4 while waiting, and enjoy the accolades of all the people who spent hours chopping peeling and scrubbing their side dishes. The other major benefit of being The Turkey Maker is that you have control over any leftovers. It will be in your power to select who is worthy of taking home which bits of turkey whilst hoarding the best for sandwiches. Happy Thanksgiving.

    PS Down here I celebrate Tanksgibing which is the sames as Thanksgiving but celebrated on the first Saturday following US (not Canadian) Thanksgiving. A major difference is that the official language is Spanish followed by drunken Spanish then Spanglish and finally drunken Spanglish.

    November 20, 2012
    • Dude, hilarious with the drunken Spanglish thing. I like your approach to Thanksgiving dinner. I did not know of these “baking bags” you speak of. The problem with volunteering to do the turkey is that NO ONE in my family would believe that it could take less than 5 hours to cook the turkey, and there would be much pestering and disbelief and general micro-managing afoot. So perhaps I will broach the subject this year and get them used to the idea before I make my move. . .

      November 20, 2012
      • Well it does take 5 hour for the turkey to cook, but YOU only have to do 20 mins of work before sitting back for brews. These work brilliantly for roasting chickens as well (they make smaller verions). Try stuffing your chicken with a couple of whole jalapeño peppers, onion and celery, you will get a unique sort of infusion without making it spicy. Oven bags are your friends: http://www.reynoldsovenbags.com/

        November 20, 2012
  3. I think the question is more, what DO you do with a bottle of port? That stuff just hangs around, being a fire hazard…

    November 20, 2012
    • Excellent question. Other than consume it with a cigar on the back porch, I am not sure. It might be the one trick pony of after-dinner drinks? I wonder what would happen if you dumped it on a roast and braised it. . .

      New plan for Thanksgiving 2013.

      November 20, 2012
      • I think Scott should address the problems associated with port in his new column. (You are giving him a column, right?)

        November 24, 2012
  4. Oh, I have taken the recipe to share with my 82 year-old mother, who lived on a farm during the Great Depression. One thing that her family had was milk and butter. My mom and her sister were in charge of churning the butter. We still have the churn, except it is used as a umbrella holder now! I know she will love your post!!!! Thank you for creating a wonderful place to visit.

    November 20, 2012
    • Wow–that’s amazing! Please tell me what she says about how she made butter. Her recommendations would be awesome even if she looks at what I wrote down and says “This girl is crazy. That is not how you make butter!” I’m looking forward to any interesting stories she tells you, if you care to pass them along.

      November 20, 2012
      • I’ll be talking with her tonight!!! I know that when they separated the milk they would feed the “skim milk” to their livestock and save the cream for their breakfast cereals and baking. I don’t think they knew that much about cholesterol in those days. The cream was so thick at times that it was the consistency of sour cream. But it was delicious….I can only imagine the calorie count….

        November 20, 2012
        • Talked to mom!! Your recipe for making butter was right on target. She loved hearing about your efforts – because it does take effort to make butter! Thanks again for sharing.

          November 28, 2012
  5. Don’t just let that whey go down the drain! Pancakes made with whey are delicious.

    November 20, 2012
    • I had no idea! Do you have any favorite recipes to point me to? I’ve never heard of that and am curious about how to do it and what they taste like with whey in them. Thanks for the heads up!

      November 20, 2012
      • I mostly just stick with my favorite pancake recipe and substitute the whey for the milk. My favorite recipe is in Brunch! by Gale Gand (I tried to be correct and underline that book title but I couldn’t get the computer to do it). The whey just makes it more tender; I had whey from making ricotta cheese, so it made my pancakes a bit tangy too. Just keep substituting ingredients until you find something neat! Once I wanted savory pancakes and the recipe I had called for vanilla extract, so I just replaced the extract with some herb-infused vinegar, added chopped scallions and made pancakes. No guarantees that the pancakes will always turn out with a normal texture if you keep experimenting like that, but there are worse things than pancake experiments.

        November 20, 2012
        • What a good sentence (and true): “There are worse things than pancake experiments.” Hear hear! Thanks for the cookbook tip. I’ll check into that one because I don’t have it. I’ve always wanted to make ricotta cheese and just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I should bump that up on the “to do” list. Along with pancakes.

          November 20, 2012
  6. Homemade butter is the BEST! Good girl for not leaving out the washing step, it lasts so much longer! And ditto Jenifer up there, the buttermilk is a great addition to anything you want to bake! I use port in my cranberry sauce, too. Not nearly half a bottle, though… yikes… We prefer to drink the flammable materials in this house…

    November 20, 2012
    • Brooke, do you do any variations on homemade butter? I’m a newbie at it.
      Cheers!
      (Literally. With port.)

      November 20, 2012
      • Mostly we just make butter, but a lot of people like to put chopped up herbs in there like chives or thyme (might be a nice addition for T’giving actually… hmmm…) Also, if for some reason you make a ton of it, it freezes really well, too. And I keep mine in a butter crock on the counter so it’s always spreadable! Port cheers all the way. I may have actually over done it with the booze this year. Besides the port, I’ve got two whites, a red, and a bottle of hard cider. For my husband and I… Because nobody else is coming…Except my kids… “Yesh, honeeeeey, Mama’s had a little to djrink…”

        November 20, 2012
        • I don’t know if you MEANT to spell “drink” as “djrink” but the typo fits perfectly with what you’re saying. :) Love it.

          November 20, 2012
        • Jenn #

          Add some blue cheese. Next time you have a steak, put a slice on top and let it melt…..ugh. Suh guud.

          November 20, 2012
          • Damn, that sounds good, Jenn! I would not have thought of that.

            November 20, 2012
  7. Steve #

    And my entry into the what to do with port: Portuguese Chicken with Port…excellent! I think this was the recipe I used……

    http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/02/portuguese_chicken

    November 20, 2012
    • Steve, this chicken looks delicious. Plus, it calls for a little butter, so I could throw in the homemade stuff! Thanks for passing it along.

      November 20, 2012
  8. my fav way of preparing steak is with blue cheese also – grill that sucker to taste and then melt a slice of Cambezola cheese on top – it is the best – I get complements all the time on that one – now I am hungry….

    November 20, 2012
    • I don’t think I’ve ever had Cambezola, Shelley–I’m glad you mentioned it! Have you ever had dark chocolate pieces on a cheese plate with a creamy blue cheese? I love the combination. I eat blue cheese rarely, but when I do I tend to really like it.

      November 25, 2012
      • I havent had cheese and chocolate – not sure if that would be my cup of tea LOL
        Some blue cheeses are too strong for my liking but Cambezoloa is a mix of gorgonzola (strong blue) with camembert (soft creamy brie like) and it is the perfect combo – I can eat a wheel of it on crackers in one sitting – then pass out into a cheese coma…

        November 26, 2012
  9. We have this heirloom family butter churn, though it’s not the Laura Ingalls Wilder kind that you can use as an umbrella stand. This is a more modern (early 20th century?) version, with a glass jar and a paddle that turns through the ingenious use of a crank and some gears (which were invented, I believe, in the early 20th century). When I was growing up, the job of making butter on Thanksgiving fell to the children. (You may have heard this story before. It’s a variation on the old-fashioned, hand-cranked ice-cream maker, which we also happen to have. I see a pattern herere.) Anyway, after what seems like HOURS of turning the crank on this thing, we really did end up with butter, which we then shaped into a kind of ball and served in a bowl. The grownups claimed that the point of this exercise was to get in touch with our pioneer roots or some such nonsense, and we kids bought it every year, seeming to suffer some kind of holiday-induced amnesia about how much work it was and how our arms hurt for days afterwards.

    My own kids and their cousins, however, seem to be far less gullible than we were. The first year we deemed them old enough for the arduous task of making butter, we trotted out the churn, gave them the pioneer roots song and dance, and they churned away. They have refused every year since, however, and now the churn is part of the charming country decor in my sister’s kitchen.

    (As a side note, in our family, our elders drank the buttermilk. My father and uncles actually argued over it! Me, I just use it in pancakes.)

    November 20, 2012
    • KIDS THESE DAYS. Yeesh!

      We don’t have an old butter churner or ice cream maker, but we do have. . . and I hesitate to say this. . . an old toilet. Or something. It’s a wood box or something with a pot in it. I don’t know if it was ever used as a toilet or why on Earth we have it, but it’s sitting in the entryway of my parents’ house, because I guess it’s an antiquity now. Probably from the early 20th century? :)

      November 26, 2012
      • Whoa. Old wooden potty seat (?) beats hand-cranked butter churn any day! Don’cha just love decorating with antiques?

        November 26, 2012
  10. And if synchronized sleeping isn’t an Olympic sport, it ought to be. I think you have the gold-medal winning team at your house!

    November 20, 2012
  11. Awwwww! LOVE these photos!

    November 20, 2012
    • Thanks, Kara! They’ve been cuddling with each other a lot lately. Warms the olde heart. :)

      November 26, 2012
  12. I was so looking forward to the cranberry sauce recipe after all that buildup, plus the potential hazard of DANGER. I don’t much care for Thanksgiving, since I find pretty much all Thanksgiving foods to be nonyummy – - with the one exception of cranberry sauce. And I’m pretty much the only one who eats it.

    But Laura Ingalls Wilder is a satisfactory substitution.

    November 20, 2012
    • Yeah, I thought about sharing the cranberry sauce recipe but I would have had to make it at least one extra time to photograph it, and I DID NOT want to do that for reasons discussed above. :) Hee hee.

      November 26, 2012
  13. theadventurebeginsblog #

    I’ve always wanted to make butter! You make it sound so easy, maybe I’ll try this weekend

    November 20, 2012
    • I promise it is so easy! I couldn’t believe it myself. As I was making it, I thought to myself “so. . . am I messing it up now?” then “how about now? Did I ruin it yet?” But no! It’s pretty darn easy, as far as I can tell.

      November 20, 2012
  14. Wonderful title, Katherine. Port is one of those things I can’t do anything with anyway. Happy Thanksgiving! May it come without any fires or other types of accidents.

    November 20, 2012
    • I am happy to report that my Thanksgiving was fire-free. I hope yours was the same, Sharyn!

      November 26, 2012
      • Well, Mom forgot about the rolls and they were over-baked, but nothing was actually burned! We were quite happy with our food and my Mom even managed to say a few words to Johnny, so he was happy with the conversation. I hope you and yours had a lovely Thanksgiving — I have not read your latest post yet.

        November 26, 2012
  15. homemade butter?!? you thrill me. i’m now perplexed by how you’ve never roasted a chicken, yet you totally made butter. that takes a special sort of genius.
    i’m never going to be able to look at cranberry sauce wiggling on a table again without laughing myself under said table. NEVER. for that, i am thankful. :) happy thanksgiving!

    November 21, 2012
    • Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I hope your cranberry sauce was extra wiggly this year.

      November 26, 2012
  16. Camille (over here) #

    I made a port infused blackberry sauce for a loin of venison I prepared last night. Oh yes I did, and I’m not ashamed. Bambi was delicious. We didn’t actually go out and kill her of course, we relied on hunter friends to do that and then grace us with some of the tastier bits.

    And I’m amused and somewhat anxious that ‘sscherman’ has finally spilled the beans and exposed the glaring truth about cooking a turkey. It’s so easy, everyone is impressed when you pull it off, the ‘oysters’ on the bird are always yours for the taking (get your hands off those!), and there should be large amounts of alcohol involved. Wishing you, the family and the pups a wonderful day tomorrow!

    November 21, 2012
  17. Amy #

    Wow, I’m seriously impressed that you not only made homemade butter, but that you made it on purpose. I usually make butter by mistake every Thanksgiving when I’m making the rum-spiked whipped cream for the pumpkin pie and I don’t pay attention and over whip it.

    November 21, 2012
    • Amy; i have SO DONE THAT. until now i’ve never admitted it. publicly. mine happens with a bourbon whipped cream, and every time i do it, it get it wrong. i didn’t know until now that I could refer to it as “accidental butter.” :)

      November 24, 2012
      • Amy #

        haha, glad I’m not the only one! We make the same whipped cream every year…and so by now we’ve learned to buy multiple containers of whipping cream to save us the extra 3 runs to the market when we inevitably screw up on the first two attempts.

        November 25, 2012
        • Have you guys ever made cinnamon whipped cream? With a little cinnamon and sugar in it? I made some for the first time a few weeks ago because I saw it in Bon Appetit or something. It was ridiculously good with pumpkin pie. From now on, I’m going to make it to go with any type of apple cake or autumn dessert. And the good news is that if I whip it for too long and it turns into butter, it’ll be delicious cinnamon-sugar butter for toast. :)

          November 25, 2012
          • Amy #

            that sounds amazing.

            November 26, 2012
  18. Synchronized Sleeping: And one, and two, and *ear twitch* three, and four, and roll…. And stretch, stretch, and three, and *yawn* four…

    November 22, 2012
    • You delight me, Sandy Sue.

      November 25, 2012
  19. Loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder reference – brought back great memories! I had all of the books when I was a kid and must have read them 50 times, all the while fantasizing about living in a little house on the prairie churning butter like my life depending on it! Totally making this soon! Port – reduce the heck out of it along with some dried figs and it makes a delicious sweet sauce for pork! Yum! Although with your track record with port and stoves maybe you’d better just stick to drinking it…

    November 22, 2012
    • Melissa, our dryer broke a few weeks ago and for a few weeks I put the clothes on a clothes line. At first I got a kick out of pretending I was living in a little house on the prairie, and then it wore off. Big time. (It’s now fixed.)

      Your port sauce for pork sounds delicious. I love fruits with pork. A while ago I dumped some red wine and fresh stone fruits and dried cherries in a saucepan and cooked it down until it was juicy and sweet. It was pretty tasty, so I’ll step it up a notch and try with port next time!

      November 25, 2012
  20. I did NOT see that homemade butter recipe coming from this post’s (hilarious) intro. I’ve been really into making homemade butter ever since I accidentally made it (while trying to make whipped cream as a base for black sesame ice cream… whoops!). (Accidental recipe and purposeful recipe– with chives– both available on my blog.)

    Even with the purposeful butter-making, it didn’t occur to me to feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder… but now that you mention it! Now I almost wish I ate pork so I could do a whole series of Laura Ingalls Wilder-inspired recipe posts, from whatever they did to preserve their bacon in the winter to making maple-syrup candies by drizzling it in the snow.

    November 23, 2012
    • Yes, Allison, did you pour maple syrup on snow as a kid and eat it like ice cream? I did, but I had forgotten until just now. I bet I got that from The Little House On The Prairie. Next time I’ll make your chive butter. Yum!

      I had sesame ice cream in Manhattan once–at an ice cream place in the East Village that closed, sadly. It was delicious. I also had poppyseed ice cream there. I tried to make some last year and it turned out pretty well, but I didn’t realized how expensive poppy seeds were, and it wound up being some of the priciest ice cream I’ve made in a while. :)

      November 26, 2012
      • Whoa, poppyseed ice cream sounds interesting– did it have enough of a flavor, though?

        And yes I think I did try pouring maple syrup on the snow, but I never just ate it like a flavored snow cone, even though that’s clever in retrospect; instead I wanted it to harden into maple candy shapes like in The Little House on the Prairie, and it never quite worked the way I wanted it to… speaking of expensive! I must have cost my parents quite a bit in terms of maple syrup.

        December 4, 2012
  21. This is one of my most favourite Eggton posts ever. Mostly because you worked the word eyeball into it.

    November 24, 2012
    • The word eyeball is, like, 8,000 times better than the word eye, isn’t it? Which brings me to an important question: do they make you dissect eyeballs in elementary school in Canada? Because when I was in 5th grade, I had to dissect a cow eyeball. The one thing I retained from that bizarre experience is that the word “eyeball” is a good one.

      November 25, 2012
      • We didn’t HAVE to, but a friend of mine CHOSE to dissect a cow eyeball for a science project. Bleck. We did have to dissect pig fetuses in high school. I learned nothing.

        November 26, 2012
  22. MMMMM now I want to add some herbs to the butter and wonder why we couldn’t have a video of the wiggly cranberry sauce? LOL Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    November 25, 2012
    • Hee hee– I am having fun thinking about what song would be the best soundtrack to a video of a bowl of wiggling cranberry sauce. Probably something with “bounce wit me” in it.

      November 26, 2012

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