The Anti-Turkey Thanksgiving

November 27, 2011

We have nothing against turkey. They’re just large birds, and especially for only 2 or 3 people, cooking a whole turkey for Thanksgiving means you’re stuck in a bad stereotype of Thanksgiving leftovers. We’ve done a turkey breast in the past, which is more appropriately sized, but Thanksgiving is the time to lay all your cooking chops on the line. So, this year, we decided to do a non-traditional Thanksgiving. We had an appetizer of lobster tails in cream sauce, with roasted whole duck as the main course. We’re also not big pie people (another piece of Thanksgiving heresy), so we also made two mousses for dessert.

We started our cooking day making homemade bread. This is a fairly traditional yeasted bread that is one of Rachel’s Thanksgiving traditions that we still follow. We split the batch in half, and half had dill and fennel seeds with kosher salt on top, and the other half got sundried tomatos, olives, tomato paste, and cheese to become a form of pizza bread.

We also prepped all of those things that you eat BEFORE your indulgent Thanksgiving meal. In our case, smoked gouda cheese, summer sausage, and crackers.


After that, we got the duck started. It’s not only smaller than a turkey, it’s less prep work. In our case, we just scored the skin to let the fat out, and added a little bit of salt before popping it into the oven at 300 degrees. It had to be turned and poked every hour for about three and a half hours to let it cook evenly and crisp the skin.


Then we turned the oven up to 400 degrees, brushed the duck with a glaze, and put it back in for a few minutes to finish the process of crisping the skin:


Final duck:


While that was cooking, Rachel made a cream reduction and it made friends with the lobster tails. Seafood can be a little sketchy in the Rocky Mountain region (we aren’t close to the sea). These weren’t the best lobster ever, but butter and cream go a long way towards rectifying that:


While the duck was finishing, we also made some of the more traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, glazed carrots, green beans, and mashed potatoes. All together, it looks like this:



Hope everyone had as much fun cooking this Thanksgiving as we did. Now here we go into Christmas cookie season!

4 Responses to “The Anti-Turkey Thanksgiving”

  1. Krystal said

    HOLY WOW!! I am so angry my broken foot prevented me from joining you for this unbelievably beautiful meal! You are the two most talented women I know :-).

    Hope you had an amazing holiday week — I hope to see you soon!

  2. Alan said

    Can’t wait to cook with you two in January.

  3. Desta Richards said

    Yum and more yum! Although, I did make my best ever deep dish turkey pot pie with leftovers yesterday. Thank goodness for finding a small bird–10 pounds was manageable. I will have to break out of my rut sometime! Love, Mom R

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