My favorite day of our preparation is Wednesday--Pie day. My mother-in-law makes her delectable pumpkin pies and then we Johnson women go to town on the others. The photo to the right is the fruits of our labors last year: an apple, french apple, apple-berry sour cream, toasted pecan, pumpkin cream cheese, and lemon and toasted coconut meringue. My Johnson family (the family I was raised in) are also HUGE boysenberry pie fans. We almost always buy ours at Marie Callendars, but the past couple of years I have been less-than-impressed with the quality. This year, I have bought the berries and we'll be making a couple of berry pies, all the apples that we did last year, and a banana cream. Although the pecan pie is delicious, it is so rich that you can't try several kinds, which means that it gets neglected, so I'll wait and make it at Christmas or next year.
The Johnsons are also traditionalists when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal (as are my in-laws,) so we don't fiddle much with the recipes, except to perhaps add a new side dish here and there or toss in an extra pie. But there absolutely must be a roasted turkey (and most years Jared also deep fries a turkey--mostly so he can have a good excuse to fry everything in the house the next day when they're watching football.) Alli is doing the turkey this year, so Thanksgiving morning will feel downright leisurely around here. We also make a traditional onion-celery-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, a raspberry jello-sour cream salad, and these rolls:
One of the crowning dishes is the citrus-cranberry relish. Sure, it's just a side dish and you generally only eat 1/4 cup or so, but it is so beautiful on the plate, and the sweet and tart of it pairs so well with the turkey. There is nothing better than a leftover turkey sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread with cranberry relish smeared all over it. Yum.
What dish or dishes can you not go without on Thanksgiving?
If you are interested in trying a new recipe at your Thanksgiving table this year, this is a great one. And it can be made on Tuesday or Wednesday, which is always nice. Bon Appetit!
Johnson's Cranberry Relish
- 1 bag fresh cranberries
- 2 red apples
- 2 large oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1-1 1/2 cups sugar
Core apples. Zest the citrus and reserve zest for later. Peel oranges and lemon, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Grind cranberries and other fruit together, using an old fashioned CLEAN meat grinder. Or use your food processor, but keep it chunky, not pureed. Add sugar to taste (my mom likes it tart, but my in-laws prefer it sweet). Add citrus zest. Best if made a couple of days ahead, which you want anyway when you’re making Thanksgiving dinner!