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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fruit 'n Whiskey Cranberry Relish

Let me preface this by saying that I've never been in Ireland during the holiday season.

And let me follow that statement up by proclaiming: The scent of these cranberries, apples, and spices simmering in whiskey on the stove top smells like Christmas in Ireland!

So, obviously, I can't guarantee that Ireland actually smells this way at Christmas.  But in my mind, that heady steam cloud snaking its way into my psyche tells me that it does.
When I was in Ireland learning my way through some of their whiskey distilleries, the smell of whiskey hung in the air in much the same way.  I imagine that the sweet smell of the evaporation process as the liquid bubbled away in those huge, copper pot stills and the whiskey simmering away on my stove produced much of the same affect.  Or is it effect?  Either way, that's what happened.

Combine that with those warming spices typically associated with a chill in the air and the holiday season, I suppose the result is inevitable.  And totally desirable.

Fruit 'n Whiskey Cranberry Relish

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Keywords: simmer condiment side alcohol cranberries whisk(e)y apples Christmas Thanksgiving American Irish winter fall

Ingredients (~2 cups)
  • ½ c. whiskey
  • ¾ c. water
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch allspice
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 apple, peeled & diced small
  • 1 orange - juice and finely grated zest
  • pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste
Place whiskey, water, brown sugar and all of the spices in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1-2 minutes to allow sugar to dissolve. Stir in the cranberries and turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering slowly. Let simmer until the cranberries start to pop and thicken, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in both the juice and the zest of the orange, salt, and vanilla bean paste.

Fish out the whole star anise and cinnamon stick before serving. I like this warm, at room temp., or cold.

To me, the smell of this simmering on the stove instantly makes me think "Irish Christmas". It's a beautiful thing. I used Tyrconnell whiskey in this batch, but feel free to use any type you wish.

This is a thick, almost jam-like relish that is the perfect addition to any holiday meal, or serve it spread on a ham or turkey sandwich.
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