Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving dishes that is either reviled or fetishized. Only in recent years has it returned to a form resembling something produced by nature with actual intact cranberries still visible on one’s plate. Paula Deen, however, has arrived to take the processed dish of yesteryear to the next caloric level.
For many who came of age in the second half of the 20th century cranberry sauce was a can-shaped (because it came out of a can) gelatinous mass that tasted like super-tart Jello. It was maybe okay smeared on a little turkey or mushed into a forkful of mashed potatoes. But on its own? Way too potent.
But Paula Deen, the Southern-fried down-home celebrity cook who is famous for her reliance on butter, has found a way to resurrect that cylindrical cranberry-flavored product while simultaneously adding ingredients (mayo!?!) that — at first glance — pretty much gross us out.
But you be the judge.
Paula Deen’s Layered Cranberry Sauce
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus more for topping (optional)
1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
Beat the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl with a mixer until creamy (it should be spreadable). Beat in the pecans. Put the cranberry sauce in a bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Spread about half of the mashed cranberry sauce in the bottom of a bowl or parfait dish. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the cranberry sauce, then gently cover with the remaining cranberry sauce. Top with more pecans, if desired.