Cranberry Conundrum: The Cooked, and the Raw

Cranberry Conundrum: The Cooked, and the Raw

There’s a slight but perceivable tension on the traditional Thanksgiving menu when it comes to cranberry condiments: cooked, jellied sauce or raw, chopped relish, and no mediating between the two. I’ve long taken a holistic approach to this dualism and made both, and think of it as a single dish—Claude Lévi-Strauss cranberries, The Raw and the Cooked. A bonus to making the two is it creates the opportunity to use your grooviest vintage mid-century two-sided vegetable serving bowl. (If you’re anything like me, not only is the term “vintage mid-century two-sided vegetable bowl” meaningful, but you’re always looking for such opportunities.)

For the cooked, jellied sauce, the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag is fine. After the simmer, I run the mixture through the large-gauge disc on my food mill, ending up with a sauce that gels nicely and is recognizable (and acceptable) to aficionados of the archetypal cylinder from the can, but with some textural interest.

The bracing, raw relish has its definite partisans—be sure to try it on your day-after turkey sandwiches. It’s also great with pork. And so easy; my recipe follows. It includes toasted California walnuts and walnut oil, and whole Valencia orange, so good this time of year. Buy an organic orange if you can, and scrub well all over. I like the slight molassesey tang of raw sugar in this, but white works, too. And, the tablespoon of booze could be eliminated—or, doubled, if you like that sort of thing.

For a small group, either recipe can be halved—a single 12-ounce bag of cranberries, divided for the two preparations, is an efficient way to go.

Priscilla’s Raw Orange-Walnut Cranberry Relish

1 Valencia orange, seeded but unpeeled, cut into eight pieces

½ cup toasted walnuts

1 12-ounce bag cranberries, rinsed

1 tablespoon walnut oil

½ cup raw or white sugar

1 tablespoon brandy or Cognac

Tiny pinch of salt

In food-processor container, pulse orange until roughly chopped. Add walnuts, pulse briefly. Add cranberries, walnut oil, sugar, brandy or Cognac, and salt. Pulse until mixture is evenly chopped, but not puréed.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

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