A small serving of Aunt Kathy's cranberry relish. Sweet and tart!
Along with the mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, yams, and a myriad of vegetables, there was always cranberry sauce. It was the jellied kind from the can, of course, slid out and sliced into deep red disks. I loved that stuff. But there was also another kind of cranberry sauce, a sort of relish, that my Aunt Kathy made. I learned to like that even more, and have made it for my own table for many years. I don't think Aunt Kathy invented it, but I wonder whether it was a family recipe, one she found in a cookbook, or if the recipe came from the back of the bag of cranberries. Wherever it came from, it was simple and delicious: a bag of fresh cranberries, an unpeeled seedless (navel) or seeded orange, and a cup of granulated sugar. She put all the ingredients in a blender and chopped them into a relish, then let it sit for a few hours.
It's very hard to find fresh cranberries here in the French countryside. We've found them a time or two (and thanks to a friend up north, had them mailed to us one year). This year I wondered if dried cranberries might work. We find those, partially dehydrated like raisins (in fact, I think there's a similar product in the US called "craisins"), in the supermarket here. I soaked the cranberries for a while to reconstitute them and made the sauce in the food processor as normal, except that I used less sugar because the dried cranberries are already sweetened. It worked! The flavor is not exactly the same as it is with fresh berries, but it's close enough, and we ate it up with our Christmas bird. We even enjoyed it with foie gras! Celebratory food is often about memory and this cranberry sauce always reminds me of those holidays at Gram's house. Thanks Aunt Kathy!