Monday, November 24, 2014

Cranberry Relish with Bourbon, Dixon-style

Contributor Jim Dixon is usually a free-style kinda guy, mixing whatever he's got in his garden or can find at the farmers' market with products he carries in his Real Good Food line of products. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, he's all about the classics—with a twist.

I like to eat the same thing I've had almost every Thanksgiving of my life, and if you want cook the Dixon meal, go here. I salt my turkey, which I think works better then brine. I've got a smallish 11 lb bird, so I’m leaning toward the same ass-backward spatchcocking that I do with chicken. My other tips: Make a lot of gravy, more stuffing than you might think you'll need (technically dressing, since you should cook it outside the bird) and a creamy vegetable side dish (these creamed leeks with fennel pollen, for example).

Cranberry, Orange and Meyer Lemon Relish

When I was a kid my Thanksgiving Day job was running fresh cranberries and oranges through a hand-cranked meat grinder to make the cranberry-orange relish recipe that was on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. Later I graduated to the food processor, and a few years ago I started using maple syrup as the sweetener. While my mother also makes at least three more different cranberry sauces every year, I still like the simple relish the best. There's always a lot left over, and after eating it on turkey sandwiches for a few days, I'll mix it with yogurt or just eat it plain.

Adding a Meyer lemon and using the Louisiana cane syrup from Three Brothers Farm seemed like a fairly safe modification of the original, and since you want to make the relish a few days before Thanksgiving, I made a batch this weekend and liked it. A little more tart than usual, but tasty. Did I mention the bourbon?

Put a bag (12 oz. or a couple of cups) of cranberries in the food processor. Since they grow here, try to find some from Oregon or Washington, and there are a few organic growers out there, too. Cut an orange and a Meyer lemon into pieces, pick out any seeds, and toss them in, too (don't peel). Add about a half cup of Three Brothers cane syrup (substitute maple syrup; sugar works, too, start with 3/4 cup). Pour in a good shot (an ounce or two) of bourbon. Process for a couple of minutes until you can't see big chunks of citrus peel, then taste and adjust sugar. Store in the refrigerator until it's gone.

You can find Jim at his Real Good Food warehouse store just about every Monday from 4 to 7 pm. It's at 833 SE Main and occupies the corner of SE 9th and Main, number 122. Look for the “extra virgin” sign on the sidewalk out front, and park on the street since the lot is for tenants.

Top photo: Coastal Washington cranberry bog by Keith Weller from Wikipedia.

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