December 29, 2009 by skwishface
The holidays are almost over, and we’re not talking about it.
If we do talk about it, we’ll only cry. Cry cry cry. Big fat tears. Tears of protest, as the weather begins to warm and we struggle to write the correct year on things. Tears of regret, one for each cookie, two for each glass of eggnogg, extra hiccupy sobs for the glasses of eggnogg to which we added whipped cream. Tears of sorrow, because we’re really going to miss the giddy joie de vivre of the last several weeks.
So let’s not talk about it. Instead, let’s talk about my new favorite holiday dish, the new love of my winter life, introduced to me by my boss’s wife….
2 16-oz bags fresh cranberries
4-5 green onions
1/4 cup white sugar (to taste)
1 tbsp salt (to taste)
1 fresh jalapeno (seeded, to taste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
(for a printable version of this recipe, hie thee to Tasty Kitchen)
First, let us discuss cranberries.
Cranberries are super mega good for you. Full of vitamins and nutrients and stuff that keeps your urinary tract running smoothly. Which is odd, because once you start cutting them up, they’re apparently only full of air and tiny seeds.
Fresh cranberries are hard, weird, hollow, bitter little things. (I know people like that) It’s a wonder anyone ever decided they might be good to eat. I can just imagine early humans picking one of these alarmingly red berries, eating one, and thinking “Prohibitively astringent and it pops disconcertingly in my mouth! Mm-mm!”
Nutritional anthropological speculation aside, rinse your berries and drop them in your friendly neighborhood food processor.
If you don’t have a food processor. you could use a blender. I can only imagine you’d have to work in smallish batches, though, lest your blender fight you the whole way. If you don’t have a blender, you could use a knife. And several hours of chopping. Followed by several hours of scrubbing the stains of cranberry juice out of your hands.
Fun fact: cranberries stain blue. No kidding. Blue.
If you’re blessed by the presence of a food processor in your home, simply pop the lid on and pulse until you’ve got whatever size berry chunks you desire.
You do definitely want chunks, here. Don’t turn it into a puree. Between the sugar and the lemon juice, the berries will break down quite a bit later, and it’s best to still have some structure in there to nosh upon.
Once chopped, scrape your berries out into a bowl. Taste test a few bits. Make a face (they really are bitter). Add salt for flavor enhancement and sugar to make the flavor you’re enhancing a little more friendly.
Stir that all around so the sugar can start whatever wacky chemical process it is that lets sugar break berries down into something more tender and juicy than they could be on their own. Set the berries aside and consider your other veggies.
I encourage the use of fresh jalapenos. However! If you, like me, are surrounded by organic gardeners who grow masses of peppers every Summer, come holiday time you may have a freezer full of jalapenos. Which is fine! Frozen peppers lack the crispness of fresh, but in this particular recipe that’s no big deal. Also, frozen peppers can simply be grated into whatever you wish to spice up. Just be careful! The hotness element that lives only in the ribs and seeds of a fresh pepper will have permeated every single cell of a frozen pepper. Use with moderation.
Anyway, hack up your pepper and onions. Taste-test your berries to see if the bitterness has calmed down under the sugar’s influence. Add more sugar if you need to. Then introduce your veggies to your berries.
Add lemon juice, stir it all together. Then … and this is crucial … let it sit in the fridge overnight.
The longer this salsa hangs out, the better it gets (short of the moldy stage, that is). The berries get sweeter, the pepper gets hotter, the onion flavor melds it all together with the lemon juice’s help.
This particular batch of salsa was made the night before the big family Christmas shindig was to be held at my house. Which is why the pictures are all a bit odd looking. Love that flourescent lighting!
But the end result the next day? A magical blend of spice and tartness and sweetness and joy.
Served with plain ol’ tortilla chips, this stuff is heaven. Festive, seasonally appropriate, yet uniquely flavored, heaven.
Enjoy! WHILE YOU STILL CAN! *sob!*