You see what they’re doing this week? They are gearing us up for Turkey Day. No sooner did they throw Stuffing Day at us but then they follow up with cranberry. I sense a pattern.
There’s a lot of love for cranberry sauce around these parts, especially for the stuff that comes in a can. I don’t know of any other food that when served, still stays in its cylinder form, ridges and all, when it hits the table. That’s what cranberry sauce is to most people (and the folks at Ocean Spray are grateful for that). I am not a big fan of that but I do love the kind with actual cranberries in it. In recent years, I’ve grown partial to the cranberry sauce from Cape Cod’s Standish Farms which is available at Clement’s in the produce section. It’s a great product. Fresh. Sweet. Tart. Cranberries in every bite. Personally I think this blows the “canberry” away. I’ve been known just to eat it all by itself without all the turkey trimmings. This was my vision for celebrating this day – getting a jar and going to town. That’s when I realized I was supposed to be celebrating cranberry relish.
Cranberry sauce is made by taking fresh cranberries and mixing it with sugar and water so it sweetens up and starts to solidify. Cranberry relish is different. That’s made by taking whole cranberries and mashing them up with some other flavors (like whole oranges – rind and all) along with a little sugar to sweeten it up. The sauce is more gelatinous while the relish is more chopped. When I discovered that, I realized that there was always a version of cranberry relish at our Thanksgiving table growing up. My Aunt Peg made it, I think, or maybe it was my grandmother? I’m not sure. I always just passed the cranberry products along saving more room for the turkey. I feel like I gave the relish a try at some point, but it was likely too tart for me. But I definitely know it was always there. I can taste the orange in my memory.
I found a recipe from our pals at Ocean Spray for a relish and I went to Clement’s to go get the ingredients (really just fresh cranberries, an orange and some sugar). I had everything ready but then I decided to stop at the Stonewall Kitchen display in the store. I don’t usually spend too much time in that area, but I know you can always find a good surprise in there. It took a bit, but I found it! They had a jar of their very own New England Cranberry Relish.
Stonewall Kitchen puts out some great products. When we lived in New Hampshire, the word headquarters were just a few miles away in York, ME and we would see their products popping up everywhere in the area (gift shops, grocery stores, markets). Not too long ago they built a huge store in York which is a bit of a tourist attraction now with all their products on display plus some cooking classes and other demonstrations. All good stuff. I think we only went there once or twice, but it was an experience just to go and worth the stop especially if you are a foodie. It’s a great company. Their Cranberry Relish was pretty good too. It was probably a little more jelly-like to be considered a true relish, but you could taste the bits of orange mixed in along with the cranberries, so it was definitely not your typical cranberry sauce. A true relish would have the texture of …well relish, like you put on your hot dog. Nonetheless, it got the job done (and definitely tasted great too). I had it tonight with a piece of chicken and the two complemented each other nicely. I may have some more tomorrow. I feel like I’m just starting to warm up for Thursday.
So relish was celebrated. I think this inspired to make my own for Thursday as well. However, I’ll probably stay away from making a relish and make my own cranberry sauce instead. I found a recipe that Alton Brown posted which looked easy and, if I trust Alton (and I do), will be as tasty as any sauce out there. And if all else fails, I can always just slice off a slab of the canberry and call it a day. That’s one of the great things about Thanksgiving – so many options. I can almost taste it.
Next up: National Espresso Day