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November 24, 1996

You can follow he basic recipe on the back of the cranberry bag, but with just a little extra effort, you can have something really special. This recipe, from the family of Deputy Food Editor Russ Parsons, has become a Thanksgiving standard in The Times Test Kitchen. It's extremely simple. Just be sure you leave enough time before serving for the flavors to mellow, about three days. And be sure not to overcook the cranberries--that little pop when you bite one is part of the pleasure.


1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

3 whole cloves

3 whole allspice

2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

1 (12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

Grated peel 1 orange

* Bring sugar, water, cloves allspice and cinnamon sticks to boil in 4-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring, until syrup is clear, about 3 minutes. Add cranberries and cook just until they begin to pop, abut 5 minutes.

* Remove from heat, add grated orange peel and cool. Keep in refrigerator at least 3 days before using.

Makes 2 1/2 cups relish. Each 1/4-cup serving contains about:

132 calories; 1 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.41 gram fiber.

1 Add cranberries to boiling syrup.

2 Cook just until cranberries begin to pop.

3 Add grated orange zest, then let flavors mellow three days before serving.

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