The ingredients: 2 cups whole raw cranberries; 1 small onion; 3/4 cup sour cream; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar—white or red.
Wash the cranberries...
Chop the onion...
Combine cranberries, onion and sugar in a food processor.
Grind the cranberry-sugar mixture until coarse.
...and sour cream.
Mix one more time.
Transfer to a plastic (freezable) container, and place in the freezer, for overnight or longer.
Early Thanksgiving morning, move the relish from freezer to refrigerator to thaw. It should still have some little icy slivers left. The relish will be thick, creamy, and shockingly pink—"Pepto Bismol pink," Susan Stamberg says.
The pink star of the meal—aside from the turkey, of course—shares a plate with mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole.
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The Recipe's Origins
As Susan Stamberg has noted, her mother-in-law got the recipe from a 1959 New York Times clipping of Craig Claiborne's recipe for cranberry relish. In 1993, Claiborne told Stamberg: "Susan, I am simply delighted. We have gotten more mileage, you and I, out of that recipe than almost anything I've printed."
In an NPR tradition, the Friday before Thanksgiving is the time for Susan Stamberg to share her mother-in-law's weird-sounding — but delicious — recipe for cranberry relish. This year, she's found a real fan: food writer and editor Ruth Reichl.
The pair looked over some of the ingredients: sour cream, sugar and horseradish — preferably red horseradish.
"Now, you see, this is where it sounds terrible and tastes terrific," Stamberg said. "Everybody, when you get to the horseradish, people go 'Ew!' "
"Well, I think most people are sort of 'Ew!' at the sour cream," Reichl said.
"That, too," Stamberg said, "and the onion doesn't help that much, either!"
When finished, the dish is a color that Stamberg describes as "Pepto Bismol pink."
"I feel one must tell the truth," Stamberg said. "That is the color!"
"And it is shocking, I have to say, on a Thanksgiving table," Reichl said. "Having had this on my Thanksgiving table many times, it is really shocking. It's a color that doesn't look like it belongs on your Thanksgiving table."
Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish
This relish has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It's also good on next-day turkey sandwiches and with roast beef.