We don't have a lot of traditions around the house. There are a few though and one of them involves Thanksgiving. We get together with family up the coast and eat more than we should while catching up on recent events. For the last ten years or so we've brought a sweet potato casserole and at this point I think we'd be denied entry without it. Somehow it finds a home among the vegetables on the table even though the sugar content is probably equal to the apple and pumpkin pies combined. This fact is acknowledged tacitly among the adults, a little more gleefully among the kids who see a second helping of the orange mass, loaded with brown sugar and butter and masquerading as something healthy, as an annual triumph.
In the past we've also contributed to the beer and wine on hand. Last year, however, we brought a batch of punch and that seemed to be an enjoyable twist on the afternoon's pleasant pattern of lazy milling about. Unlike the sweet potato casserole though, which I realize we can not tinker with or change in any way, I thought it would be fun to mix in different punches from year to year. Last year it was Regent's because I love that one and had some Seville oranges on hand.
This year I'm opting for a hot punch with a somewhat seasonal component - apple cider. Rather than disrupt any of the goings-on around the oven/stove, I'll set up a crock pot somewhere and let people help themselves as they orbit the kitchen/living room/dining room. This time I turned to Dan Searing's book The Punch Bowl which is full of classic and modern punch recipes. I've only made a few from this book but so far they've all been great. And just as an aside, if you're the sort of person who, like me, has a hard time driving by flea markets and yard sales without wondering what sort of glassware and bar stuff might be hidden among the tables, you'll likely find the numerous pictures of gorgeous antique punch sets enjoyable as well.
Eventually, I settled on Hot Rum Punch which consists of apple cider, oranges and orange juice, pineapple, cloves, cinnamon, lemon and a bottle's worth of rum. It looked like a crowd pleaser. Still, it's for Thanksgiving, and in order to avoid running into snags at the last minute I felt like a trial batch was in order. Ok, it's a pretty straightforward recipe. Snags were unlikely. I just felt like making a big batch of punch.
The pineapple's warming up and getting brown. The other stuff is ready to be added once the pineapple is done. I studded the orange wedges with cloves but that was when I thought I would be leaving it all in the pot to serve. After everything's done on the stove the whole mixture (minus the rum) sits in the refrigerator overnight. Prior to service the rum gets added and the mixture gets heated back up.
I ended up deviating from the recipe slightly at the service stage. I strained off the solids before adding the rum and bringing everything up to temp. My thinking was I could garnish the punch with clove studded orange wheels and cinnamon sticks and keep all of the large chunks out of the punch bowl (or crock pot). It's possible that the pineapple flavor would be less pronounced in the end but, having at this point tried it, it's clear that even when removed early the pineapple still makes major contributions.
The recipe yielded just over three quarts after straining and adding rum. We took the half gallon jar to a friends house...
...and kept the quart for a chilly Sunday at home.
Hot Rum Punch - Edward Hamilton via The Punch Bowl by Dan Searing
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Pineapple - peeled and cut into large chunks
1 Orange - cut into eighths
1/2 Lemon - quartered
4-6 Cinnamon sticks
24 Whole Cloves
1 quart Orange Juice
2 quarts Apple Cider
2 1/3 cups Dark Rum
1 cup Light Rum
Garnish - 20-30 Apple Slices - added to cups upon service
In a large pot saute the pineapple in the butter until lightly browned (more butter is ok if needed). Add orange, lemon, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add orange juice and cider. Bring to a boil then simmer 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, add both rums to the mixture and heat until hot (but not boiling).