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More alternatives to turkey at Thanksgiving

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

An elegant alternative to the traditional turkey dinner at Thanksgiving (part II)

Holidays are about food for us, which is why Thanksgiving has always been a favorite. Historically, it has been the only time of year that we roast a turkey. The past couple of years, however, have been quiet Thanksgivings for my wife and me. Having a big turkey makes no sense – I usually have had my fill after a couple days of turkey sandwiches. So we now routinely experiment with dishes that evoke the traditions of the holiday, which I have highlighted in previous blog posts.

As this Thanksgiving approaches, we are all likely to reconsider how it will be celebrated and get creative. So, why not go overboard and toss out the traditional playbook altogether? Not much is normal during the 2020 pandemic, so how about continuing that theme by going rogue on tradition!

We have done that in the past by experimenting with more decadent birds – starting with duck breasts done on my trusty BGE. More recently we have migrated to Cornish game hens. As always with fowl, I find a way to brine the meat overnight before smoking or roasting.

cornish game hen with trimmings

We have also turned to venison medallions pan seared in butter, served with a perfect complement of homemade maple cranberry sauce. But this tends to align more with Christmas than Thanksgiving.

This year we decided to do something completely different that involved traditional flavors and ingredients, but incorporated in an untraditional style. We settled on the following menu, which we call Thanksgiving 'deconstructed & reconstructed'. I hope you consider elements of this in mixing up your own holiday meal.

A starter comprising turkey and cranberry

duck fat makes the rillettes decadent and pickled cranberries add tanginess

Who doesn’t love turkey and cranberry? Those are the foundations of my Thanksgiving! How about smoking a turkey leg, converting it to rillettes and serving as a canapé with pickled cranberry and cornichon as a garnish? Pair that with a sparkling wine or a viognier.

A main dish comprising butternut squash

butternut squash lasagna is like a different form of pumpkin pie

Haven’t we all had sweet potato and goat cheese in some form at Thanksgiving? In the past we have had a tasty roasted acorn squash and goat cheese dish that had me about a lasagna of butternut squash and ricotta, heavy on the cinnamon and nutmeg? Pair that with a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay.

A dessert comprising apples and cinnamon ice cream

a bit like apple tart with ice cream

Not a pie! But rather an apple poached in mulled wine served with a scoop of homemade cinnamon ice cream! Try a glass of sparkling wine as an accompaniment.

Happy Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

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