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Thanksgiving Recipes: World’s Best Cranberry Relish Recipe and Yam-Pear Puree

November 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

Editor’s note: Send me your best holiday recipe and maybe you’ll get a cookbook! Click on the Contact button above and type in your recipe – I’ll get by email. Enjoy all the recipes already sent in – and have a safe, happy holiday!

Must-have cranberry relish

No turkey is complete without cranberry sauce. No way, no how. My good friend and blog publisher Maureen Clancy of California – whose son Ben just passed the bar exam – will be celebrating with her family and making this cranberry relish.

Of this, she writes: “Ask any food writer which day of the year they like the best and chances are good they’ll say Thanksgiving. Ask any food writer the deadline of the year they dread most and they’ll probably say the same thing. I mean, really, how many new takes on the turkey-and-stuffing theme can a poor journalist come up with?

This shows up on my table year after year. I may play around with the green beans (this year, red pepper flakes and Parmesan) and the Brussels sprouts (hazelnuts and bacon, anyone?). But the yams with pears and cranberries are sacrosanct. Our gathering of usually 16 to 18 family members and dear friends always raves over them.”

Buddies from former food editor jobs

Maureen and I usually get to meet once a year at the annual Association of Food Journalists conferences, and one memorable year with the group in Boston, on a quite cool day, we toured a cranberry bog like this one:

cranberrybog Thanksgiving Recipes: Worlds Best Cranberry Relish Recipe and Yam Pear Puree

Cranberries are a berry unique to the U.S., and are grown in several states as well as Canada. They’re not grown in water, but in boggy ground on long, trailing vines. Farmers flood their bogs with about 1-1/2 feet of water for harvesting. Beaters are used under the water to knock the berries off their vines, and since they contain air pockets,  they float and are “vacuumed” into a truck for processing.

No natural sweetner in the berry

The cranberry (known as the crane-berry to Native Americans, who likely watched the birds make gluttons of themselves on the tiny red orbs), are naturally tart and acidic – and are full of vitamin C. Most people can’t eat them without some sweetener; thus, the sugar called for in most fresh cranberry recipes.

For this yummy relish, make it two or three days beforehand and get it out of the way of the big dinner bustle. Host tip: Make extra and give to guests in little jars for their leftover turkey meals. (Give them some turkey, too!)

World’s Best Cranberry Relish

Makes about 2 cups.

  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, crushed slightly
  • ¾ cup orange marmalade
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse cranberries, picking out any spoiled ones. Place cranberries in deep 2-quart baking dish with lid. Add water and sugar. Cover with foil and place lid firmly on top.

Bake for one hour, stirring lightly after 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Add marmalade, lemon juice and walnuts. Stir well to combine.

Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes about 2 cups.

Yam-Pear Puree

(Adapted from Good Food magazine)

  • 4 pounds yams (or sweet potatoes)
  • ½ lemon
  • 4 firm, ripe medium pears, pared, halved and cored
  • 4 medium tangerines (about 1 pound), juiced
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest for garnish

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Drain well.

Squeeze juice from lemon half into a medium saucepan of water. Add pears and cooked over medium-high heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Process half the potatoes, pears, tangerine juice, butter, sugar and ginger in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer puree to 9-by-15-inch baking dish and repeat with remaining ingredients. Stir purees to blend, season with salt and pepper to taste, and smooth top with spatula.

Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Garnish with lemon zest and serve hot.

Makes 8 servings.

Maureen Clancy is the former food editor, columnist and restaurant critic of The San Diego Union-Tribune and now web master of Matters of Taste at www.maureenclancy.com

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Tags: Holiday cooking · Recipes: What's Cooking!

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