Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Side Dishes

I didn't see a can of jellied cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table until I was an adult.  I must admit I thought it was a bit of a joke.  However, I have come to realize that it is a comfort food to some people and a strong part of their holiday tradition.  My husband is one of those people.  He firmly believes that not only must our meal include a can of jellied cranberry sauce, but it we should not destroy the ridges formed by the can for the sake of presentation.

Last year, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, he performed a small ritual to open the can.  Apparently, you must ease the jelled sauce out of the can oh-so-slowly, so it can maintain its nature defying shape, including the ridges of the inside of the can.  There was also discussion about the noise that the sauce makes as it makes its complete descent from the can.  I'm not even sure how to spell the sound I heard...How could I deny him this pleasure?

So, the jellied cranberry sauce will once again be making an appearance this Thanksgiving.  But, because I don't like it, we will also have a cranberry relish.  Yes, I could make a homemade cranberry sauce... 1 bag cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water...cook until saucy.  But, I grew up with a relish on the table.  A cranberry orange relish to be exact.  Dad made it every year.   After several years of cranberry experimentation as I hosted by own Thanksgivings, I have decided to revisit an old stand-by...with an addition (apple) to make it my own.

Cran-Orange-Apple Relish

1 orange (I used navel)
1/2 apple (I used Pink Lady)
12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on taste

Cut and peel the orange, and remove the segments from their membranes.  I just used my hands to peel it apart in large chunks and dropped it in a food processor.  Add most of the zest from the orange.

Peel, seed, and chop the apple.  I just used half, but the whole apple will work, too.  Add it to the food processor.

Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup sugar, and pulse it with the fruit.  Give it a taste to see if it needs more sugar.  Even if you think you like things sweet, it is better to start with less sugar and add as you go.  You can't take it away once it is in there.  Plus, if you use a sweeter apple, like Pink Lady, you will likely need less added sweetener.  

Luckily, cranberries are highly acidic.  Why is that lucky?  Well, those acids discourage the growth of bacteria and that means that your relish will keep for quite a while in the fridge.  And, that means you can make this easy relish in advance before you feel overwhelmed by other holiday tasks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble...gobble!


  1. Yum, I can't wait! We do a similar one in my family, but we use clementines instead of oranges. I think mainly because peeling the clementines gives the younger cousins something to do!

  2. I'm excited, too! I like the idea of using clementines...I'll have to try it sometime.

  3. At my house we used the canned cranberry sauce as well. But we opened both ends of the can and pushed it out. It stays intact and you don't have a wierd slurping noise to haunt your dreams. But that might spoil his challenge.

  4. You always have such good suggestions, Brenda. And, I do think he appreciates the challenge...