Cranberry-Serrano Relish

I rarely find recipes in newspaper food columns that have any merit. This one, however, is different. I found it passing through Texas, in The Dallas Morning News of Wednesday, August 3, 1988, while on vacation. I clipped it out and made it a part of the Southwest Thanksgiving Dinner later that year, whose recipes are all here in this set.

All in attendance had eaten the usual canned cranberry aspic relish before; some even liked it. Most put a dollop of this relish on their plates to assuage the palate in its usual and expected assault by dry turkey breast (which mine wasn’t!). However, to their surprise, the cold, sweet-sour and pleasing taste of the sorbet soon turned into an aromatic pungent sensation of chiles and heat that was the topic of much convivial conversation during the meal.

The recipe below is now a tradition, served at all my family holiday feasts. It matches the original, except for the added cranberry juice and use of sugar substitute.

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 20 fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup diet cranberry juice
  • ½ cup <sugar>

Combine all ingredients except <sugar> in a food processor and purée. Stir in <sugar> and blend well. Cover and freeze a few hours until firmly set.

Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving and wait until it has the consistency of a fruit sorbet. Serve with grilled poultry or turkey.

Makes 1½ cups. Serves 6 people, ¼ cup each.

Cranberry-Orange-Anise-Cinnamon Relish

If you have read this far, you should know by now that I view cranberry dishes with much reserve. But holiday meals tend to need something colorful and sweet on the plate and refreshing to the palate. You may also note that this recipe bears some resemblance to the Anise-Pear-Cranberry Relish found elsewhere in this work. That is because cranberries, orange, anise, and cinnamon appear to go very well together, even without the pear.

  • 8 oz light (lower sugar) orange juice
  • ¾ cup <sugar>
  • 3 clusters star anise (or 1 tsp anise seeds, but it’s not the same!)
  • 2 (3” sticks) cinnamon
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 cups cranberries, fresh

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, stir in orange juice, star anise, <sugar>, and cinnamon stick until sweetener is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally until essence of the anise and cinnamon have been extracted, about 5 minutes. Strain to remove the solid matter.

Stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

Alternately, continue to cook until liquid is reduced to make the relish take on the consistency of fruit preserves.

Pour into serving bowl. Serve cool or cold.

makes 3 cups.