Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  Truly, I can't wait for a day with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and I can just sit around and eat until my pants don't fit.

Oh wait... days like that have been pretty easy to come by lately.  I have the pants to prove it.  There's nothing like sustained unemployment, an expanding waistline and chronic insomnia to put one in the holiday spirit.  But here comes that turkey anyway, ready or not!

Despite the awakening of my inner Grinch, which I will blame on the early onset of the shopping season, I am thankful for quite a lot this year.  I have a loving family who have listened, and cried, and laughed right along with me these last several months.  I don't know what I would do without those phone calls home to Mom, in particular.  There's just something about a woman who swears like a sailor that makes me smile.

I have a wonderful extended family of friends who are always looking out for me, making me laugh, and distracting me from my worries.  I appreciate them all, and am grateful  both for the times they made me leave the house to socialize, and for the times they let me off the hook because they knew getting off the couch was more than I could handle.  Equally important qualities in my opinion.

I have a really great husband.  It's hard to take someone for granted when you find yourself yipping and jumping like a dog when he walks in the door after work, because you're so starved for human companionship.  His patience and sense of humor have kept me together, even when it felt like I was falling apart.

Finally, apparently I still have some readers, at least according to the stats.  So for those of you who have continued to check in to this blog, or who have encouraged me to start posting again, thanks.  It's nice to know you're still out there.

So...is it time to talk about food now?  Ok?  Ok.

I wanted to try something new for cranberries this Thanksgiving.  I was raised on the canned jelly, progressed to the whole-berry sauce, and am now ready to graduate to making them from scratch.  Cranberry sauce has never been my favorite part of the feast, but I always end up eating it anyway because the tartness cuts through the rest of the heavy flavors so well.  When I came upon the recipe for Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger in Mark Bittman's book it sounded perfect; fresh, bright, and no cooking required.

All you do is take your fresh cranberries, orange segments, zest and sugar and whiz it around in the food processor until chunky.  Just a few quick pulses did the job.


Then you stir in some freshly grated ginger, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to marry.  I like this recipe over a cooked cranberry sauce because you could whip it up on the fly on turkey day without taking up a burner on the stove.  Or you can make it the day before, and store in the fridge.

 
I think this is the best cranberry recipe I've ever tasted.  It's tart, slightly sweet, a bit spicy from the ginger, and the berries have the most amazing texture.  They have a really nice bite to them, as opposed to the mushiness you get with canned cranberries.  This relish would be the perfect condiment for a turkey sandwich or wrap as well.  Super yummy, simple and fresh.  I'm looking forward to serving this for Thanksgiving, provided I can stop eating it and save some for next week.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! 

Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger
Source: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything 

1 large orange
12 oz fresh cranberries (recipe calls for 16 oz, but my store only had 12 oz bags, and 12 did the job just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Use a microplane or zester to remove all zest from orange.  Remove pith and separate orange into segments.  Combine orange flesh, zest, sugar and cranberries in food processor.  Pulse a few times until relish is chunky.  Do not over-process or you'll end up with puree.  Stir in ginger, and more sugar if needed.  Let sit for 30 minutes for flavors to marry, or store for up to a few days in the fridge.


Thanksgiving Update:  I had frozen the relish after I made it for this post, so that it would still be good for Thanksgiving dinner.  When we ate it today, it was even better than it was fresh.  All of the flavors were perfect, and the texture of the cranberries had softened just a bit.  So if you were wondering if you could freeze this recipe, freeze on!