Susan Stamberg's Other Favorite Holiday Cranberry Dish

Nov 26, 2013
Originally published on November 26, 2013 5:56 pm

NPR's Susan Stamberg has a booming laugh, a probing mind, and, of course, a cranberry relish recipe that's infamous in public radio land. But there's another dish that has graced her holiday table through the years — a dish that's been overshadowed by her mother-in-law's cranberry relish. It's Madhur Jaffrey's cranberry chutney.

Jaffrey is an actress who has become perhaps the world's best-known authority on Indian cooking, authoring more than 15 cookbooks.

Stamberg says Jaffrey came up with the recipe by pulling together the ingredients she had on hand: A can of cranberry sauce with berries, fresh ginger, chopped garlic, cider vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

"What you get is just this wonderful kind of sweet, sour and spicy thing," Stamberg says. "You know there are some Thanksgivings in which it just runs away. I mean it just takes over the table and I notice that most of it is gone."

The Pepto-Bismol pink cranberry relish that has become a Thanksgiving tradition on NPR's airwaves, Stamberg admits, doesn't always disappear so quickly.

You can find recipes for both Madhur Jaffrey's Cranberry Chutney and Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish below.

Madhur Jaffrey's Cranberry Chutney

1-inch piece fresh ginger

3 cloves finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1-pound can cranberry sauce with berries

1/2 teaspoon salt (or less)

ground black pepper

Cut ginger into paper-thin slices, stack them together and cut into really thin slivers.

Combine ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot, and simmer on medium flame about 15 minutes or until there are about four tablespoons of liquid left.

Add can of cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.

Cool, store and refrigerate.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

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," says Stamberg. "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. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Its also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.")

Makes 1 1/2 pints.

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Now, a found recipe that begins with this public radio word association game, Thanksgiving, Susan Stamberg.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: Momma Stamberg's cranberry relish, naturally. The one with the horseradish, the sour cream and the onion and the roast cranberry...

BLOCK: Which sounds awful.

STAMBERG: But it tastes terrific, although it is the color of Pepto Bismol.

BLOCK: And it's controversial so we're going to be beyond Momma Stamberg, today, Susan. We've invited you back to your original home airwaves here on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED because we wanted to find out if you weren't to be making Momma Stamberg's cranberry relish, perish the thought, what might be on your Thanksgiving table. What have you got?

STAMBERG: So you're calling this Found Recipes. You have found me out because as a matter of fact, my favorite cranberry relish recipe...

BLOCK: Sacrilege, it's not?

STAMBERG: ...yes, is - it's not. It's not Momma Stamberg's although I do adore it and I'm always loyal to my later mother-in-law. But there's one recipe I like even better and it's a chutney and it's garlicky and wonderful, totally surprising, from a terrific Indian actress named Madhur Jaffrey, who was in early Merchant and Ivory films and "Shakespeare Wallah." She made a reputation over many decades and then ran restaurants in New York and does many cookbooks.

BLOCK: I think of her as a cook, not as an actress.

STAMBERG: Exactly, exactly. She's good at both.

BLOCK: So cranberry chutney.

STAMBERG: It's a chutney and...

BLOCK: For Thanksgiving.

STAMBERG: Sure. She opened her cupboard one day and found objects and put them together. You know, chefs do this on the air now often on programs, just say, OK, these three things are on my shelf in the kitchen, what can I make with them. She did this and she was the first I ever heard of who did it.

And she starts with - she finds herself in the cupboard, a can of cranberry sauce, but with berries so that's her starting point. And then, she adds to all of that, fresh ginger, chopped garlic, cider vinegar. Isn't this all sounding yummy and weird a little, too?

BLOCK: It is, yeah.

STAMBERG: Sugar, cayenne pepper because she's Indian. It's got to have a little hot thing in it.

BLOCK: A bit of a kick.

STAMBERG: Right. Salt and pepper, that's it. And you boil things down and you make reductions and you mush them around in a saucepan and what you get is just this wonderful, kind of sweet, sour...

BLOCK: Spicy.

STAMBERG: ...and spicy thing. It's great.

BLOCK: And you're saying it's a close competitor to Momma Stamberg's.

STAMBERG: You know, there's some Thanksgivings in which it runs away. I mean, it just takes over the table and I notice that most of it is gone. Whereas, Momma Stamberg's...

BLOCK: The Pepto Bismol pink concoction...

STAMBERG: still lingers, yes.

BLOCK: You can recycle it the next year. Put it in the freezer and bring it back.

STAMBERG: You caught me. You found me out again on this program.

BLOCK: NPR's Susan Stamberg with another cranberry relish. Susan, thank you so much.

STAMBERG: Happy Thanksgiving. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.