At my mother’s house for family dinner on a recent Sunday, we sat at the table and looked through my grandmother’s old recipe cards. It was fun to see recipes written in her handwriting. There were also cards in there written in my aunt’s hand writing, and we think my great-grandmother’s as well. I don’t have memories associated with most of the recipes we found, but one that my sister had placed into a scrapbook, is a recipe that has been featured at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for as long as I can remember. Cranberry Relish. Now that my grandmother has passed away, my younger sister has taken on the task of preparing this dish for family holiday dinners. She even uses Grandma’s old metal meat grinder. I’m pretty sure that meat grinder has only ever been used to make cranberry relish. This family cranberry relish is not cooked. It is served raw and cold. It contains about a pound of sugar, and for some reason, red food coloring. I’m guessing the food coloring was added on a year that the cranberries weren’t their brightest.
My aunt and uncle have tweaked the recipe to their liking, omitting some of the sugar, and because of this, my sister and mother have banned them from making the cranberry relish. Rachel follows the recipe to the T, and I have even witnessed her getting into the zen of using that old metal meat grinder. It is such a treasure to have recipes written by my grandmother, and also a treasure to be able to continue to enjoy her cooking even though she is no longer with us.
Now that I’ve gotten this place all sappy, I’m about to shake that sappy out of you! The Roasted Cranberry Pear Sauce you see pictured here is so not my grandmother’s recipe. I might become disowned after publishing this recipe. I’ll just save this recipe for Friendsgiving. Oh maybe I’ll bring it to family Thanksgiving and blame it on one of the cousins! That’s always a good plan.
My Roasted Cranberry Pear Sauce uses freshly squeezed orange juice and honey as the sweeteners, and there is no red food coloring to be found. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare most vegetables, and fruits get the same depth of flavor when roasted. All you have to do is throw everything onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss it into the oven, then serve. You can definitely serve this hot straight out of the oven and it is wonderful. Maybe try exercising some self-control, though, and make this a day ahead of time. Store it in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors marry and meld and get all happy together. Then you’ll really get the spices to shine through. You can totally reheat it on the stove if you need it warm, but cold or room temperature is just fine, too.
Come back in a few days and I’ll show you what else I did with this Roasted Cranberry Pear Sauce. Hint: It’s not about the time I served it on top of vanilla bean ice cream. That 100% did happen, and it was great. But no, what I have to show you is maybe better than ice cream, and it might involve cheese, of the Brie variety.
What is your favorite holiday dish? Tell me in the comments, and I’ll try not to completely recreate them and steal your holiday joy and memories.
Keep on scrolling past the recipe, after you’ve made it of course, and find loads more Thanksgiving side dishes to add to your feast.
- 2 oranges
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- 1 pear, sliced or chopped
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Peel and section one of the oranges, set the other orange aside to use it's juice.
- Place the orange sections, the pear slices, and the cranberries on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Drizzle with the honey, maple syrup and salt. Add the cinnamon and cloves to the baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven until the cranberries pop, about 15 minutes.
- Gather the cinnamon sticks and cloves and wrap them in cheese cloth.
- Place the roasted fruits in a bowl, and toss with the juice of the remaining orange.
- Top with the wrapped spices, cover, and chill in the refrigerator at least one hour, up to overnight. This allows the flavors to marry and further develop.
This recipe makes a chunky sauce. If you prefer, you can place it into a food processor and blend until smooth.
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