How is it November? We are weeks away from Thanksgiving and the holidays are truly knocking on the door! Through the years I have had more requests for recipes and advice pertaining to holiday meals than any other subject. Thanksgiving in our family is the ultimate food day. Without question it is our favorite meal. As long as I can remember the sentiment was the same on both sides of my family.
So as we start the month of November we decided to deconstruct the Thanksgiving meal, one dish at a time. We are starting with one of the most important though most neglected holiday sides– Cranberry Relish. Let’s be clear on a couple of things. Cranberry relish should not slurp out of a can and it should not have “ribs” from a can imprinted in it.
Cranberry relish starts with plump, tart cranberries, simmered in sugar water along with orange zest until the cranberries begin to burst. Chunks of oranges and apples are added along with currants and whole cinnamon sticks leaving behind their spicy note in the cranberries. Finish the cranberry relish with a splash of brandy and Cointreau – after all it is the holidays, plus toasted pecans for a bit of crunch. Fresh cranberry relish is so amazing.
This is a slightly tart, slightly sweet relish providing a perfect balance for the holiday meal. And if you have leftovers, it’s also wonderful served as a condiment on a turkey sandwich. The flavors continue to mellow together so make the relish ahead of time and take some pressure off the big day.
2 bags fresh cranberries, 12 ounces each, rinsed and sorted
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 oranges, zest 1, then both peeled and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
½ cup currants
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons good brandy or cognac
2 tablespoons Cointreau
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
In a large saucepan add the cranberries, along with the water, sugar and zest from one orange.
Stir to combine and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.
Raise the temperature to medium and continue to cook, stirring periodically until the cranberries begin to burst.
Toss in the chopped oranges, apples, currants and the cinnamon sticks and mix into the cranberries.
Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Once the relish is thick add the brandy and Cointreau and cook for about five minutes to allow the spirits to cook into the relish. Stir in toasted pecans.
Serve warm or chilled. This relish keeps for about two weeks refrigerated.