Thanksgiving Poll + Cranberry Chutney

What makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving at your home?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I love Thanksgiving for one primary reason: cranberry jelly. Cranberry chutney, actually.

I can’t even remember if we even had cranberry jelly on the table when I was growing up. I think maybe if someone remembered to get it, we might have had a can of the stuff on the table, with those distinctive ripples from the can revealing that it wasn’t homemade, as if anyone could have entertained that thought.

And if we had it on the table, I’d eat it as an afterthought, maybe spreading a thin schmear over a particularly dried-out piece of breast meat to give it some life. So, no, I wasn’t a fan of it, and it doesn’t have any Jungian deep-seated emotional resonance with me.

But cranberry chutney was one of the first recipes I ever tried, holiday or not, where the results so greatly exceeded the expectations. Here it was, something I wasn’t crazy about in the first place, and something incredibly simple, and somehow the tiniest bit of this and that transformed it into something I didn’t see coming.

Fruit and sugar … that makes jelly, yeah? Then add some onion. What? A vegetable in jelly? And then a pinch of cayenne … whoa, did not see that coming.

On top of all of that, it was also trés simple and bombproof, impossible to mess up.

Cranberry chutney may have been the gateway drug that led to finally getting a decent set of pots and knives.

And even though I was probably 35 years old the first time I ever made it, now I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without it. And I dare you not to like it, no matter how much you either loved or hated the canned jiggly stuff.

The Indians and English use them much, boyling
them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat,
and it is a delicate sauce.

—John Josselyn, while visiting New England 1663

Cranberry Chutney

12 ounces fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons red onion,
finely chopped
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup finely chopped pecans, lightly toasted

In a heavy saucepan, combine the cranberries, onion, sugar, ginger, spices and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until cranberries begin to pop—about 5–6 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Stir in pecans. Chutney is best if made two days ahead. Refrigerate.

Up next: the world’s greatest Thanksgiving left-over sammich, the Fruity Gobbler.

About SAO'

Dad to two amazing girls, husband to one.
This entry was posted in family, holidays, thanksgiving. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Thanksgiving Poll + Cranberry Chutney

  1. Anonymous says:

    Our menu is traditional, and most of the recipes have been handed down unchanged through the generations. Most of them still have someone's name attached to them, like Grandma Koehler's dressing and Nancy's Orange Jello Salad. (Ohio, what can I say.) And then came me. Starting with our first one as a couple we have always celebrated Thanksgiving at our house, which is far away from extended family. So for 20 Thanksgivings we have wanted to feel connected through family traditions, but we have had the flexibility of trying something new without pissing off the elders. The ongoing result of this is a collection of family recipes with my notes explaining how I really don't it that way, use less sugar, the recipe says 1/2 cup but use the whole onion, 3/4 cup of shortening is a filthy lie, and the like. I have made a few major mis-steps, and I have learned that if we go to a friend's for actual Thanksgiving it just means I'll be making the full menu for us some time Thanksgiving weekend. The biggest change I've made has been stuffing the bird with onions and citrus, and cooking the dressing on the side. The debate still rages over that one, as 50% of us like stuffing cooked inside the bird, which means that two of us are not afraid to say that kind is revolting. Anyway, for extra credit: The family signature is homemade gravy, but there is no recipe for that. Sorry. So here is Extra Credit Plan B.I long ago abandoned the family recipe for candied sweet potatoes, since it requires a grandchild to stand and gently turn the potatoes in the pan for about all freakin day. I found a recipe for Ruth's Chris Sweet Potatoes, but as ever there are some notes. Here we go: Almost Ruth's Chris Sweet Potatoes FOR THE TOPPING1 cup brown sugar1/3 cup flour1 cup chopped nuts (pecans)1/3 stick butter — melted(Or sprinkle mini marshmellows on half to satisfy your daughter, but DON'T admit it to your foodie friends. May require Photoshopping the Thanksgiving pictures. In this case you will need less topping.)SWEET POTATO MIXTURE3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I roast mine in the skin then mash with a pastry blender. I will never go back to boiling. Fair warning, roast potatoes are hot.)1 cup sugar (Nope, that is way too much. Try about 1/2 cup. Also I use brown sugar here too.)1/2 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon vanilla (Get the good stuff. You deserve it.)2 eggs — well beaten (Remove those little white strings. They are gross.)1 stick butter — ( 1/2 cup) melted (Just do it!)Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside. (Yeah, that's the topping.)Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. (Really? Does it matter? Just make sure your potatoes and butter aren't too hot, or you will have scrambled eggs and potatoes.) Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving. Happy Thanksgiving!Liz Smith

  2. Faith says:

    Fun poll! Cranberry chutney is a favorite in our house too and your recipe looks great!

  3. oooh chutney with cardamom- that's what i'm talking about. don't you just love that distinct tartness from the cranberry? wow, can't believe it's next week…

  4. Yeah baby! Thanksgiving is all about the cranberries and stuffing for me! I'm loving the onion and cardamom–that's really unique!

  5. UrMomCooks says:

    We luv cranberries at our house. I make them a couple of times every year – your recipe looks delicious!

  6. While we mostly do the "traditional" Thanksgiving… we also have some years where we do the "traditional" Thanksgiving Mexican Style! Finding the best Tamales is a must and one of the main dishes; Chile verde, refried beans with chorizo, cilantro-line rice, etc. I have a recipe for our traditional after Thanksgiving dish; ie. what to do with the turkey leftovers. Turkey Mole is incredible. I will find the recipe and post it.

  7. Mary says:

    We have two types of Thanksgivings in our home. One is traditional and the other can be anything that moves me. We always do the traditional dinner when children are with us. This year I'll do lamb or beef. Bob needs beef – or so he says – after out trip to India. I don't dare say the word vegetable in front of him. He is, alas, a committed carnivore. Your chutney sounds really marvelous. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  8. muddywaters says:

    Give me a bite of sandwich!

  9. muddywaters says:

    Families need to record their culinary histories, so that we can see how traditions change with time.I need to do more of this type of writing.I enjoyed reading the comments from Anonymous.

  10. I had a hard time answering the poll. We do some traditional stuff but some are traditions we started with our kids, so they're newer. 🙂 All good though!Chutney looks fabulous!

  11. Kim says:

    So being from Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving and cranberries are both part of my DNA. So I am definitely trying your chutney this year and I'm gonna raise you two cranberry recipes.Cranberry Sauce with Port – Combine 1 bag cranberries, 1 c. port wine, 3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. nutmeg, and 1/8 t. ground cloves in saucepan. Bring to boil and cook until most berries pop – 5-8 minutes is all it takes. It will thicken as it cools. It's also best made a few days ahead of serving time.Mock Cherry Pie – Combine 1 bag cranberries, 1/2 c. raisins, 1+1/4 c. sugar, and 1+1/2 t. flour. Toss well. Add 1/2 c. hot water and grated zest of 1/2 a lemon. Fill pastry-lined 8" pie dish and add top crust. (Lattice is gorgeous with this one.) Brush with milk and bake at 400F for about 45 minutes. Shield crust as necessary to prevent burning.

  12. Robin Sue says:

    Now this would be a change up that only I would enjoy. We have to have the canned smooth stuff! We have the traditional fare along with the Italian feast the day before or after. Used to have it the same day but we found that eating 10 pounds of food each was not such a great idea.

  13. I am like you in that i love Thanksgiving menu primarily because it will figure some cranberry in it; the folks I celebrate with however dont care whether the stuff is canned or not, but to me, there is no comparison: difference between eating sugar and eating fruity, flavorful stuff. Will have to jot down this chutney recipe, sounds good and simple to produce.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s