23 November 2014

An End to the Great Debate

When I was growing up I had absolutely no idea what a cranberry looked like. I never even imaged that a cran-berry was a real thing like a strawberry or a blueberry. Cranberries, in our house, came from a can in a glorious glistening lump. 

At Thanksgiving a lone can of cranberry, which had been sitting on the counter all morning teasing us kids with promises of sweet-tart semimasticated goodness,  was breached at both ends. Then the jelly was coaxed from the tin - carefully, carefully, so as not to dent the cylinder - and ceremoniously deposited onto a cut glass dish. Once there the nugget was sliced, using the can ridges as guidelines, like a little ruby-colored loaf of gleaming, jiggling bread.

I loved it. I still love it. If I was a famous foodie and an interviewer asked me to name guilty pleasure foods, gelatinous canned cranberry sauce would top the list.

This cranberry loaf represents one half of a rivalry that spans generations, regions, race and religion:
Fresh Cranberry Relish vs. Canned Cran

I should say it was a rivalry because a few years ago my aunt served a chunky, jellied sweet/tart cranberry dish that rocked my world and promised holiday relish peace. She shared the recipe with me and I am going to share it with you as a gift and a hope that it brings compromise and peace to your own family table.

This has been modified over the past few years - every time I make it I tweak something and update her recipe. Although I discovered yesterday it isn't really her recipe at all - it originated in Bon App├ętit magazine in 1998. So, thank you, Epicurious.

Cranberry Cherry Relish
2 1/2 cups cherry juice
2 cups dried cherries, roughly chopped
1 12-oz bag cranberries, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cloves

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the juice to a gentle boil. Add cherries, cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 10 minutes. Return pot to heat and bring contents to a boil. Add sugar and cloves, stir to combine. Add pectin, stir to combine. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to partially cool. Transfer to a ceramic or glass dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until thoroughly chilled. 

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