The settlers at Plymouth Rock are said to have enjoyed cranberries at their first Thanksgiving. I can hardly imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without at least one cranberry dish. But as nice as cranberry jelly is, and as much as I like a good crunchy cranberry-orange relish, my favorite way to eat cranberries has to be Elizabeth Ryan's cranberry pie.
I first wrote about this pie back in 2004. Five years later, and it is now a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner. I love it so much that I wanted to share it with everyone again. It's a definite win for anyone who loves tart-sweet combinations. I often make this pie without nuts so that nut-allergic friends can also enjoy it.
The cranberry is a native North American fruit. It grows in bogs and marshes, or can be cultivated in sandy beds, which are usually flooded in the Fall to make it easy to harvest the fruit. I always picture my cranberries this way — floating serenely with millions of their comrades in a flooded field, then corralled by guys in waders to a conveyor belt and onward to be bagged and delivered to grocery stores; however, according to Wikipedia, only the 5-10% of the crop that is dry-harvested are unbruised enough to be sold as the fresh berries we see in the supermarkets this time of year.
Wisconsin and Massachusetts are the largest cranberry producers, but Michigan's Department of Agriculture is looking to boost local cranberry production. For my Ann Arbor readers looking to "keep it local," I found Michigan-grown cranberries at the Whole Foods on Eisenhower.
Making the filling for this pie is actually quite simple. Chop cranberries in a food processor, mix with raisins, orange juice, some zest, and butter. Blend sugar with some flour. Layer some of the sugar-flour mix in your pie crust, put in the cranberry mix, and top with the remaining sugar-flour mix. For the actual amounts, check out the full recipe.