Putting some heat in your Thanksgiving celebration. November 14, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
Tags: cranberry recipes, cranberry relish, Southwest-style cranberries, thanksgiving
Silence Dogood here. At the library recently, I stumbled on a copy of The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook. Ever on the lookout for flame-throwing recipes for our heat-loving friend and fellow blog contributor, Richard Saunders, I checked it out and brought it home to Hawk’s Haven to investigate. Last night, I finally got a chance to look at it, and I was so impressed by what I found that I bought two used copies on Amazon (it’s out of print), one for me and one for Richard and his girlfriend, Bridget, for Christmas.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas not far behind, I thought I’d share their recipe for cranberry relish with you all, so you too can have a chance to heat up the holidays. But first, let’s talk about those holiday cranberries.
In my opinion, when it comes to cranberries, there are three kinds of people: Those who like their cranberries cooked, usually with cloves, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and orange slices; those who like their cranberries raw, chopped and combined with other flavors into a crunchy relish or salad; and those who like their cranberries jellied from a can.
I’ll admit it, our friend Ben and I fall into the third category. We both grew up with those cans of cranberry jelly chilled and sliced on our plates, even as the adults in the family enjoyed the more complicated flavors of the elaborately home-cooked relishes our mothers made. But let’s face it, beneath their knockout flavor, cranberries are bitter. And it takes one sophisticated kid to appreciate bitter. However, there was nothing bitter about those luscious slabs of cranberry jelly, and we ate them like candy. To us, the annual cranberry slabs were as essential to a proper Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as the turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes.
These days, our tastes have broadened a bit (along with Ben’s waistline). We also enjoy cooked cranberries during the holidays, and of course we love dried cranberries, alone, baked in cookies or pies, or in trail mix and granola. We drink cranberry juice and spread cranberry marmalade on our biscuits. But we still love our old childhood comfort food best, and we still eat it every single holiday season.
The one thing we’ve never managed to warm up to is raw cranberries. Our parrots love them, and welcome the arrival of this cold-weather treat as much as we welcome its cooked cousins. But eeew, raw cranberries! Bitterness personified. We… just… can’t. And the recipe I’m about to share does indeed use raw cranberries. Maybe the jalapeno offsets the rawness. Maybe the sugar and Triple Sec balance the bitterness. I’ll admit to being intrigued. I’ll have to make it sometime when Richard and Bridget come over this holiday season. Note that the authors recommend it as a side with grilled beef, pork, or chicken year-round. If you try it, let me know what you think!
1 12-ounce bag cranberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1 large unpeeled navel orange, scrubbed, cut into thin wedges, and seeded
1 medium fresh jalapeno chile, stemmed and chopped
About 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Triple Sec
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
In a food processor, in two batches, chop together the cranberries, orange wedges, and jalapeno. In a medium bowl, stir together the cranberry mixture, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the Triple Sec, and the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The relish can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. The relish may require additional sugar, to taste, after standing. Serves 6 to 8.
I was really impressed with so many recipes as I paged through this cookbook (“I want to try this! I want to try this!”) that I finally decided I simply had to have my own copy. If you enjoy Southwestern cooking, I suggest that you see if your library has a copy so you can check it out for yourself. But hurry—there were just a few copies left on Amazon!
‘Til next time,