One of my favorite parts about writing a food blog is that friends (and strangers for that matter) will often offer unsolicited jewels of their favorite eating experiences. It’s awesome. There is nothing like it when someone recounts a memorable dish or ridiculous meal they just had. Their face lights up, they get all excited, and when the orgasmic noises start up, I know it was really a good one.
This is what happened a few weeks ago when I dined with my old friend, Mark. The swoon-worthy topic of conversation? Cranberry Sauce.
I know what you’re thinking. Of all the delectable things on the table at Thanksgiving, we’re talking about cranberry sauce here? Correct. Because this is not your average, ordinary, just-a-side cranberry sauce. It’s not even a sauce. It’s a relish. Auntie Louise’s Cranberry Jalapeno Relish to be exact.
Mark fell in love with this sweet-tart delight when he dined one year at our friend Gen's house. Gen was kind enough to share his auntie’s secret recipe, and for that I will be forever thankful because this cranberry relish will be the stealth favorite this Thanksgiving!
It is everything I ever wanted in a cranberry sauce. Sweet (but not cloyingly sweet), tart (but not mouth-puckering tart), and just a little out of the ordinary. The garlic and shallots bring a welcome savory element to the mix, and the heat of the jalapeno has kick, but accomplishes it with subtlety and finesse – like a ninja.
And, the lime is brilliant. I wavered at the thought of adding even more acidity to cranberries, which are pretty sour as it is, so I decreased the amount from Auntie’s original recipe and added a bit more sugar to help balance it out. The result? The lime brought out the natural sweetness of the cranberries and complemented the jalapeno perfectly. I also took the liberty of adding the zest from the limes, since I am a firm believer that good citrus zest is a horrible thing to waste. It is full of essential oils that add a punch of flavor.
Another reason I love this recipe – this is the note that came with it:
“I noticed that this recipe has an alarming amount of sugar, but it’s Thanksgiving, which means that overindulgence is the spirit of the day.”
Recipe: Auntie Louise’s Cranberry Jalapeno Relish
Sweet, tart, with a subtle kick of jalapeno and a twist of lime, this cranberry relish packs a punch of flavor. Recipe courtesy of Gen's auntie.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 10-12 servings
- 24 oz fresh cranberries
- ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes, plus zest)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Be careful not to over process because you don’t want the berries pureed.
- Add all the ingredients, except the cilantro, to a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until thickened. Mix in the cilantro. Cool before serving.