At every Thanksgiving table there is some kind of cranberry, whether it is canned, sauced, or chopped into a relish. We have always been a relish family. Again, this is a preference of texture – something to balance all of the sweet mash on the dinner plate like peas and pearl onions. And if the relish is tangy, even better for cleansing the palate between the second and third helpings of sweet potato casserole.
I was delighted to come across this recipe in “Cape Cod Table” by Lora Brody. It has walnuts and lime juice to keep that tangy texture that I like. It also uses brown sugar and maple syrup as sweeteners instead of white sugar. I like a dish that tells a story and this one tells the story of New England.
You can’t get much closer to Pilgrim roots than with a cranberry relish sweetened with maple syrup. Who is to know if Pilgrims ate the plentiful berries their first years on the Cape, but we do know white sugar came much later. On the way to my mom’s house on the Cape, I drive past the exit to “Plimouth,” also known as “America’s Hometown,” where the Pilgrims set up shop in 1620. This is the kind of history we trip over in New England, sometimes we remember to notice.
Across the street from my mom’s house is a working cranberry bog. We walk around it all the time with the dogs, but I have yet to see a harvest. That’s why a dish like this is fun to make, it sets history and place right in front of you. And when you toast the walnuts, your home will smell like gratitude – happy and warm.
May your hearts overflow with the recognition of good. Happy Thanksgiving!
Cape Cod cranberry orange relish
2 cups cranberries, chopped
2 large oranges
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
Wash cranberries and coarsely chop in a food processor. Set aside in a nonreactive bowl. Using a microplane, scrape the zest of the oranges and the lime into a separate bowl. Peel the oranges, removing as much of the white pulp as you can. Coarsely chop in the food processor, taking care not to pulverize the pulp. For a tangier relish, do the same with the lime (or you can leave it out). Toast the walnuts and chop in the food processor; then chop the crystallized ginger.
Combine the zest, orange, lime, brown sugar, syrup, walnuts, and ginger with the cranberries. As relish improves as the flavors meld, prepare several hours ahead. Keeps refrigerated for one week.
Serves 6 to 8.
Notes: I highly recommend finding a good microplane for zesting citrus fruit. It will make your life so much easier. Also, I used Sappy Tap maple syrup made by my friend Cheryl Young and her family in Michigan. Delicious!
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