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A bowl of Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish ()

Stamberg And Reichl Make Cranberry Relish

Nov 20, 2009 (Morning Edition)

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Cranberries, washed and ready to go into Susan Stamberg's relish.

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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.


* 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed

* 1 small onion

* 3/4 cup sour cream

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")


Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," Stamberg says. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.")

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")

The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. ("OK, Pepto Bismol pink.")

Makes 1 1/2 pints.

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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."

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