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Robrt Pela's Thanksgiving Cranberry Cassis Conserve

One of my fondest childhood memories is of sorting cranberries in ice-cold water early on Thanksgiving morning--something I've done every year since I was four years old, when my mother first gave me that task to keep me out of her way while she addressed her turkey.

(Apparently, Mom basted her bird with the leaf end of a celery stalk, but I must have been so absorbed with cranberry sorting that I didn't notice. I discovered that peculiar practice when I read my mother's recipe for Wine-Glazed Roast Turkey in an article about her cooking skills that appeared in the Sunday Parade magazine in the early 1980s.)

Although Mom didn't mean to start a tradition, it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving morning unless I've discarded every bruised cranberry in the house, drenched the healthy berries in liqueur, and set them on the stove. I can't abide cranberry sauce myself, but I like making it, so every November I prepare buckets of the stuff. My recipe for Cranberry Cassis Conserve is always well received.

Get the recipe -- and the rest of the tale -- after the jump.

In my family, holiday celebrations always involved a platter full of spinach pie. I remember that the anchovies for these Italian pies, which Mom served as an hors d'oeuvres, had to soak overnight in a little orange Fire King custard cup full of water, to get the "extra salt" off them; for me, Thanksgiving had officially begun when I spotted the dish of anchovies on the kitchen counter on Wednesday night.

I recall my father's high compliments the first time I contributed Cornbread Oyster Stuffing to our family Thanksgiving. (I also remember his less polite comments the year one of my sisters-in-laws prepared oyster dressing by adding a can of raw oysters to a box of Stove Top stuffing.) Now that I'm all grown up, I've added new holiday traditions--and several bottles of dry red wine--to my Thanksgiving Day. But it's not Thanksgiving unless I've sorted berries in a sink full of ice water and soaked some anchovies.

CRANBERRY CASSIS CONSERVE
Makes 12 half-cup servings

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1 orange, peeled
1 Granny Smith apple
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup raspberry vinegar
½ cup dried currants
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon almond extract
4 cups cranberries
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons crème de cassis

In a food processor, chop orange to a course texture. Peel, core, and mince apple; stir in orange.

In a saucepan over moderate heat, combine sugar and vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil and let it bubble for 5 minutes, or until consistency is syrupy. Add currants, ginger, cinnamon and almond extract. Simmer 5 minutes. Add cranberries and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Remove from heat when cranberries begin to pop. Add orange-apple mixture, honey, lemon juice, and cassis. Serve chilled.

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