The Way I Was

The Queen’s Cranberry Relish, for a Royal Thanksgiving Feast

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This English-style cranberry conserve (with nuts) is the bee’s knees! My husband learned the chef business under Art Wood in the 1960’s at the Wagon Wheel Lodge in Rockton, Illinois. Art cooked for the Queen–yes, yes, Elizabeth of England! I don’t know whether he served  this to her, but he did serve it at the Wagon Wheel Lodge with turkey and wild game (pheasant, quail, duck). To make this surprisingly easy-to-make, chefly dish, start with:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • skin of 1 navel orange chopped into 1/4-inch dice (save the flesh of the orange for the next step)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger. 

Combine all in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer approximately 8 minutes to carmelize the sugar and reduce the liquid. Then add:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 12 ounces whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 peeled orange, segmented and chopped

Cover and simmer until berries are all “popped,” approximately 20 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest simmer and add:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (not artificial maple-flavored breakfast syrup)
  • 1 medium sweet apple, peeled, chopped and soaked for 5 minutes in the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Turn off heat. Let the berries rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Cool, spoon into glass jars and refrigerate. (Leave 1/2″ head room for expansion if you want to freeze any of the jars–or process in a hot water canning bath. A jar of this makes a sweet gift!)

Make plenty, and then be brilliant with the extra relish (it’s nutritious stuff!):

  1. Mix equal parts relish and softened cream cheese; spread between stacked pancakes or french toast.
  2. For a quick, delicious dessert, stir 2 tablespoons relish into 1/3 cup whipped cream. It’s a fool!
  3. Spread it on a turkey sandwich.
  4. Swirl it into your oatmeal.
  5. Stir 1/2 cup into a basic muffin or quick bread recipe.

What’s your signature Thanksgiving side dish? (feel free to post a link to your recipe)

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46 thoughts on “The Queen’s Cranberry Relish, for a Royal Thanksgiving Feast”

  1. I’ve never had this English-style cranberry conserve Tracy, although it sounds heavenly, and yes, healthy too 🙂

    I tend to buy a variety of chutneys and pickles for Christmas (no Thanksgiving here, as you know!) which would be similar to this, to have with left-over turkey and cold ham.

    For us, the cranberry sauce would be the stuff in the jar although last year I did make a rather nice cranberry, orange and vodka relish which is very easy and can be made up to two weeks before the big day. Will have to look out the recipe nearer the time and let you know !

    1. Every year, I’m surprised by how easy it is to make cranberry sauce/relish/chutney. I keep saying we should do it more often, but we never do. Maybe this year, I will (we’ve got a jump on the season, and still have a bag of cranberries in the freezer!)

  2. I want to try it, Tracy. But I think in this time I wouldn’t get cranberries. Do you have an idea what kind of fruit I can get instead of?
    Greatings from Berlin, Germany Susanne

    1. They’re called “Preiselbeeren,” which is the name for both lingonberries and cranberries. Sometimes they’re available frozen in Germany, which would be the best choice.

      If you can’t find them, you could use a mixture of 1/2 gooseberries (Stachelbeeren) and 1/2 red currants (rote Johanisbeeren). The conserve will not be deep red, it will be a little more pink, but it will taste similar. Shorten the cooking time if you use these berries.

  3. Years ago I did something very similar with damson plums – it was spectacular and this sounds as if it will be too!

  4. The best part of our festive food for me is definitely the cold turkey and pickles like this which we tend to eat on Boxing Day, 26 December. A much less stressful day all round, catering wise!

  5. While this looks and sounds delicious, there are 100 too many steps for me to be able to follow, accomplishing this in any manner as you do. That being said, can I just invite myself over to your house and enjoy yours with you?

    1. Thank you–things are pretty relaxed around here. Ken is amazingly organized, and starts with all the prep plenty ahead, so on the day of the feast, it doesn’t feel crazy.

      4 years ago, before my grandparents died, we had the best Thanksgiving ever–5 generations all together (and I, smack dab in the middle as both granddaughter to my grandmother, and grandmother to my granddaughter)–and the food was as stunningly perfect. That memory will serve to make every Thanksgiving from now on, happy and lovely.

  6. What a wonderful recipe, Tracy! You had me with the first 3 ingredients, and then it just kept getting better and better.
    Okay, now when you write your book on glorious mini-vacations–where to stay and eat, and what to see and do–you can have a section on recipes your readers really cannot do without! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. The recipe and the photo of the cranberry relish do look yummy, Tracy. My family insists on making cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Me – I love it straight from the Ocean Spray can, marked with the rims of the can. Scandalous, I know. 😆

    1. I’m actually fond of the ocean spray jelly myself, Judy. It hits a very tender spot of nostalgia for me. 🙂

      If you were at my table, and you wanted your own can of ocean spray, I’ll put it in a pretty little dish for you, like the one my grandmother used to serve hers from. 🙂

      1. You truly are a good friend. 🙂 If we weren’t having company this week, I’d pop on up, complete with bib and tucker, to polish off the Ocean Spray. I do like it on a turkey sandwich the next day. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving, Tracy.

        1. Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, also,

          I signed up to follow your daughter’s blog but she’s not showing up in my reader. Is she posting? (I can’t remember the name of her blog…)

  8. It sounds wonderful, Tracy! The color is so vibrant!
    I wish I had a Thanksgiving signature dish! But I don’t lose hope and I will keep trying. 😉
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
    F. Xx

    1. And I didn’t even enhance the photos! That’s actually what it looks like in the jars–like shimmering jewels.

      If you make it three years in a row, it becomes a signature dish. 😉

      And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 🙂

    1. Do you have any kind of harvest festival?

      I do like the idea of calling everyone’s attention to the idea of gratitude. This month, a lot of people are posting on blogs and facebook, every day, what they’re thankful for in that day. It’s quite inspiring/uplifting. I always say Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of the meal (I love the way my husband makes turkey, dressing and gravy; and the PIES!) But actually, it’s for me, the most feel-good holiday. Being thankful is the secret to happiness in my opinion.

      1. No we do not have a harvest festival. We celebrate Christmas and Easter and several long-weekends for obscure reasons.
        I read a blog recently about three things you need to do for happiness and they were 1. have a goal (or purpose) 2. Acknowledge any difficulty in your life 3. Be grateful.
        I think sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to rid ourselves of difficulties instead of accepting them and so we do not get on to # 3.
        Thanks for the reminder 🙂

        1. I would change number 2 to the serenity prayer “accept the difficulties that cannot be changed, courageously change those you have power to change, prayer for wisdom to know the difference between what lies within the realm of your personal power, and that which does not.”

          And then I’d reverse the order and make # 3, #1, and move purpose down to #3. I’ve met some very happy people who don’t seem to know their purpose, or who simply (and perhaps most wisely) believe their purpose is to be grateful. For me, however, having a purpose–a reason to get out of bed in the morning–is vital.

          As you can see, I’ve done a LOT of thinking about this. It’s not easy to be “happy” when I’m in quite a lot of physical pain every day and must live with the reality that at present, there is no cure for the pain. I had to relearn how to think about happiness, which entailed a complete reassessment of what’s important. It took a lot of effort and will power, but I can honestly say that I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

          Gratitude has everything to do with it, as you already know.

          So Happy Thanksgiving today, tomorrow, Thursday, and every day.

          1. Thanks for this comment. I LOVE your change to the serenity prayer ‘what lies within your realm of personal power’. Sometimes we forget that and try and tackle too much and just give up and feel like a failure, rather than focussing on what we CAN do.
            Your other important point you make about finding ‘happiness’ within us when we have a chronic condition to live with (whether that is illness, disablement or a personally stressful situation); and how being grateful is an important part of finding (or making) that happiness.
            Thank you for this important reminder.

            1. It’s about humility, I think. Remembering that we’re only human, and don’t actually have very much power. Combine that with gratitude, and life gets a whole lot easier (not that I’m able to remember that in crucial moments, but I’m trying to…)

  9. Sounds real delicious! And I think your picture makes me even more convinsed it is a great conserve. We don’t celebrate thanksgiving in Sweden but still I could try making this!

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