Raw Cranberry Relish

The Mister likes to relate a story of his youth when his parents could not get him to eat cranberry jelly. Then along comes the botulism scare in which people were warned not to eat any canned cranberries. Naturally, after the announcement, all he wanted was cranberry jelly.

Well, there is too much sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup hiding in that delicious treat. I make a much more mouth-puckering raw version (because I’m sweet enough).

Here you will complain that the amounts given are too vague. But every year, no matter how precise I am, the mixture needs a little more X. So, I will give you a general outline and you can discover the balance of ingredients that suits your taste. It is helpful to have a taster who is not working with you in the kitchen. Their noses are clear and they haven’t been sneaking eats that pollute their palette.

2 (+/-) cups of whole frozen cranberries

1 (+) can of drained crushed pineapple

1 (+) cup of shelled pecans

Put a mix of each ingredient in a food processor and grind until you have a very coarse relish. If you have half cranberries remaining, you’ll want to keep grinding.

You’ll end up processing several batches and putting the mixture in a bowl. After it’s all processed, stir well and call in your taster. You may need to add pineapple or nuts, but rarely more cranberries.

For those who aren’t fans of incredibly “whangy” (i.e. super tart/slightly bitter) foods, you might want to add a little frozen condensed apple juice. I find additional pineapple works for me.

This is a great addition to any meal with heavy fats or rich, savory spices. And it reaches it’s best flavor when you make it a day or two ahead.

Tummy Rubbing Good Ham

This is going to take 25 hours. Half hour of prep. 24 hours to cook. Half hour out of the oven to “rest”. So schedule accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Take a picnic shoulder or butt and put it in a roasting pan.

Mix the following ingredients in a separate bowl:

1 can of crushed unsweetened pineapple

8 ounces of yellow mustard

1 cup of brown sugar

Pour the mixture over the ham, put the lid on the roaster and put it in the oven.

(if you only have the pan, no worries, I’ve cooked this many times sans lid, it cooks and tastes fine, but looks questionable)

Cook at 325 for 2 hours.

Turn the oven to 200 degrees then, cook over night. Be sure to baste the ham in the hours before bed and after rising, especially if you don’t have a lid. (no lid: toward the end, it will turn black. Trust me, after that first bite it’s hard to think about what it looks like with your eyes rolling back in your head.)

And to the temperature wussi (plural of wussy) who will write and fuss about the low temperature cook for 22 hours creating bacteria, pathogens, blah, blah, blah….don’t cook it then. The (literally dozens) of people I’ve served this to are still alive and with no ill effects. And to those who haven’t tried it, a non-pork butt covering disclaimer:

Some people think this cooking method might allow bad things to develop in the meat. Eat it at your own risk or I can give your email address to some of the (still living) people who have eaten this over the years and have them write you. Then you can make a marginally informed decision. While safe is good, deliciously tender ham is better.

To those with a lid for your roaster, remove it about 4 hours before serving, so the remaining liquids can evaporate.

The main problems with this particular dish: the smell overnight, which is maddeningly delicious, then cloying. And the fact that the meat tends to fall apart when you try to move it from pan to serving plate.

The first year I made this, it was black as a cinder, yet there was none left at the end of the night. The remaining turkey (which was most of it) became soup. And the 2 dozen guests are happily still alive and well.