Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aunt Kathy's cranberry sauce

I remember Thanksgivings at Gram's from when I was a kid. Lots of activity, the dining room table extended for a crowd, the smells of holiday fare emanating from the kitchen. Gram had a big turkey roaster out on the enclosed, but unheated, back porch off the kitchen, a kind of stand-alone electric oven into which a very large turkey could be lowered for roasting. The cover lifted off for periodic basting of the bird. I've never seen another one like it.

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!

13 comments:

  1. Walt, according to the label on the Ocean Spray bottle of cranberry juice.....
    I am under Dr's orders to drink it....
    but Ocean Spray do "Craisins" in France.

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  2. A friend of mine used to make a cranberry sauce similar to your Aunt Kathy's, and it was delicious!

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  3. Yams are a bit different to the normal fare for an Aussie Christmas dinner. Otherwise, much the same. I just found out this Christmas that my grandmother's traditional Christmas pudding recipe, which on to my mother to make and now to my sister, came from a 1964 newspaper. I asked Sister if she had written down the metric equivalents of measurement on the recipe. She said no. She likes to torture herself by each year having to make the conversions. I told her she did not make mental conversions, but Google conversions. I was right.

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  4. Walt, I posted this yesterday, 12/27, or thought I did but I am going to repost. Your tarts and pie crusts are always so beautiful. I am so jealous they always so beautiful but I love looking at them. Thank you.

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  5. I make a relish like your Aunt's, but it also has pineapple, red apple and pecans. I love cranberries with turkey.

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  6. Great memory! We use a turkey roaster on the back porch (on top of the washer), so I have the oven free for everything else. Such a convenience. One of the cranberry sauces I made this year has the same idea as Aunt Kathy's: raw cranberries, one whole orange with rind, half a lemon (with rind), sugar, and pecans. I also added a bit of Gran Marnier and some cardamon. Into the food processor and then it sat for a day. Good stuff!

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  7. Great!
    Hey, I think my grandmother had one of those roasters. Was it white? kind of dome-shaped at the top? I never saw her use it, because we didn't live in town, but I think my aunt had one, too. That would be handy, actually, so you could use the other oven for all of the ancillary items :) Here's a link to the one that I think is like my grandmother had: Westinghouse 1950s roaster

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    1. judy, yes, it was very similar to that one!

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  8. Your relish looks good but I also like the kind that just comes out of the can! Happy New year!

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  9. I've made that kind of cranberry sauce / relish, too. You can also add a bit of lemon, and if you really want to walk on the wild side, a bit of finely chopped walnuts.

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  10. Oh, I wish I had THAT Aunt Kathy. Mine got her cranberry "sauce" from the can but it was served can-shaped on a plate. Her goal was to slide it out as close to one piece as she could manage.

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  11. LOL. Your Aunt Kathy and my mom were probably sisters in cuisine.

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  12. Like you, I used to love that canned jellied cranberry sauce as a kid. But now I prefer less 'refined' versions. My friend Thad makes a similar cranberry relish (a family recipe) with the same ingredients, but with diced apple as well. I love it!! My sister-in-law makes a version of yours but added jalapeno pepper.

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