Okay, here’s the bad news – there are no pictures from our Christmas dinner this year. We were too busy diving in, enjoying our food and each other’s company. The good news is that everything turned out absolutely delicious. The turkey was perfect once again (you can check out the previously posted recipe and photos here). For the sides, instead of the traditional mashed potatoes and stuffing, I made America’s Test Kitchen Easy Baked Brown Rice (recipe can be found in The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook), Simple Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Wheat Bread, and for veggies, just a simple lettuce and pear salad. Besides trying to keep prep at a minimum, I was trying to be a little healthier this year but I have to admit I did miss the mashed potatoes and stuffing. For the gravy, I made a modified version of the sauce found in the Chicken in a Pot with Thyme and Lemon recipe (which can be found in The ATK Healthy Family Cookbook as well).
Here’s what I did for the sauce (note – I didn’t measure anything so these quantities are just approximate):
A couple tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 turkey neck
¼ of a large onion, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
Juices from the roast turkey
Fresh lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add turkey neck, and scatter the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme around the neck. Brown the neck on both sides. Add broth and water and bring it to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Strain the concentrated broth (if turkey is not done yet, keep broth in the fridge and reheat once the turkey’s done), and add the turkey juices that have collected in the roasting pan. Let mixture sit, then skim the fat off the top with a spoon. Season with fresh lemon juice to taste. We like our sauce more on the lemony side. Serve separately, along with the turkey.
Alright, let’s now talk about the edible runner (didn’t mean to get sidetracked). I first saw a video of this concept in Martha’s Classic Thanksgiving DVD a while back (it can also be found on Martha Stewart’s website under the title Cornucopia Table Setting), and had wanted to try it out since then. Of course, the reality was not as impressive as Martha’s version. We didn’t use anywhere near the amount of ingredients they did to form the edible runner but despite that, it was still pretty and we had a lot of fun munching on the variety of nuts and chocolates. :D We would definitely consider setting our holiday table this way again.