For years, I kept up the tradition. It seemed like such a part of the holiday that I couldn't figure out how to get away from it. I'd open the can, the jelly would slither out, and it would go on the table.
Now, I understand why cranberries are part of the celebration. For one thing, they're in season. For another, the tartness cuts the richness in the rest of the meal. But they don't do any good cutting the tartness if no one's taking any.
My opinion of cranberry sauce changed when I found some recipes for sauce - or relish or chutney, whatever you want to call it - made from fresh cranberries. Not only did I like it better, but I found uses for it after Thanksgiving. That jelly stuff usually just languished in the refrigerator until it I got around to throwing it away.
This relish can be used uncooked; simply refrigerate it after mixing it. In that case, it's better after at least a day, or even two. That's great because you can make it in advance. Personally, I like it better after it has been cooked to meld and mellow the flavors a bit. Try it both ways if you want. And you can combine it one day and cook it the next day, if that works better for you.
I've given instructions for making this in a food processor, but you can do this by hand or with a manual food chopper.
1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
Zest of 1/2 orange
Juice from 1 orange
2 medium apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Wash the cranberries. remove any that are soft or mushy, and put them in your food processor. Add the orange zest and juice. Peel and core the apples, chop them roughly and add them to the food processor.
Pulse the processor several times to chop the apples and cranberries into small bits. Scrape down the sides if there are large pieces, and pulse again until there are somewhat uniform small pieces. You don't want it smooth, just a small chop - like the size of pickle relish.
Put the chopped cranberries and apples into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Heat on low until liquid begins to exude, then turn the heat up to medium. Continue cooking, stirring as needed, until the apples are pink and the liquid has just about disappeared again, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool, and refrigerate until needed.
This recipe appeared in my column, The Curious Cook in the Longmont Ledger.