Free Yourself From the Tyranny of Turkey With These Thanksgiving Alternative Networks
As we in North America are entering the twenty-first (give or take) Thanksgiving season in the Internet age, it is no longer in doubt to publicly declare our dislike for the turkey. Outside of tradition, there is no reason to include turkey in a sumptuous holiday dinner.
Turkey’s main problem as a protein is its low fat-to-muscle ratio, which is due in part to design and in part to nature. The market demands white meat, so poultry raised on a commercial farm, especially poultry that are self-numbered with saline, are bred and raised to have huge breasts and nothing more. Free-run turkeys are more flavorful, but they are still large, active animals with relatively low body fat, which is why they are so difficult to fry. It’s not impossible, but cooking a perfectly roasted turkey annoys me so much that I don’t even bother anymore, and my Thanksgiving menu just got better. If you’re in doubt about the need for turkey on your Thanksgiving table and are curious about other options, I’ve compiled a short list for inspiration.
Duck or goose
Judging only by its taste, turkey is a real stinker among all poultry; even a humble chicken tastes better. While I fully support serving fried, grilled, or smoked chicken as part of Thanksgiving pasta, I admit it doesn’t feel as special as a turkey. If you want to try something new this year, but prefer to keep it in the poultry family, try the duck or goose . They’re fatter and more flavorful than turkey, yet still evoke a sense of a special occasion. Plus, they’re hard enough to find, so you’ll still get the weird satisfaction that Native American fans get obsessively exploring and looting their birds for Thanksgiving – you know if you like it.
Pork shoulder, baked over low heat
Once you’ve freed yourself from the grasping claws of poultry, the menu options for Thanksgiving are truly exciting. David Chang – a conscientious objector from Turkey, and his recipe Bo From the very forced me to doubt everything that I had thought the truth about the menu for Thanksgiving. To make this awesome central dish, you process an entire Boston Boston butt with roughly equal parts sugar and kosher salt for about 24 hours and then slowly fry it until it literally collapses. (I usually poke it all over the top and stuff it with garlic cloves on half of my head.) Roasting it whole in a hot oven just before serving gives a hearty, sweet-salty-crunchy-greasy crust, good enough to fight over. When can a turkey ever compete with this?
Like all the best holiday food, a well-cooked rib will make you cry real tears at how damn delicious it is. Of course, this is mostly related to Christmas dinners, but if you don’t close this tab after Bo Ssem’s suggestion, you clearly don’t mind breaking some of the rules.
When it comes to making huge chunks of very expensive meat, there are several different schools of thought — first grilled, then slow ; slow frying, then fry ; cook all this sous vide and then fry – but whatever your preference, a carefully cooked rib will be the perfect star of the meal. Plus, it gives you a reason to make a vat of horseradish sauce that goes great with all Thanksgiving dishes except turkey (and possibly pie). True!
Trendy guys love Wellington beef, and for the first time in their lives, they’re not wrong. This classic dish is a show of the highest standard. It combines the spirit of Turduken’s meaty orgy with pie, the most beautiful and festive of all desserts, making it a worthy contender for the perfect Thanksgiving dish. Due to its extremely chic components, Wellington isn’t the most economical Thanksgiving option that can scale to the crowd, but if you have a small gathering and feel like you want to show off, it will do. Plus, as we now know, Wellington beef is absolutely fine.
Almost any kind of lamb
I’m biased because it’s the only meat that keeps me from going vegetarian, but a large chunk of roast lamb is the most sumptuous holiday meal ever. Whether it’s an ossobucco , a lamb avgolemono from an old Greek establishment in my area, or a grilled leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic that I recently cooked for my mom’s birthday, I’m always in awe to see a lamb on the table. If you and your parents are equally committed to the best meat, just about any bite is a terrific Thanksgiving dish – and, oh, the sauce you make.
I’m going to say something now that might upset you; please bear with me if you can. The food most themed like a Thanksgiving dinner is barbecue.
Think about it: a food-centric celebration (as opposed to Christmas, Easter, or even New Years), with loads of sauces and dozens of side dishes, with a focus on obsessively watching the main course for literally hours on end? Come on, you have to admit that this is a lot like Thanksgiving. But even if you disagree, you may be reluctant to admit that smoking whole Thanksgiving turkeys is becoming more popular because they taste so damn good.
Extending that logic beyond the tragically mediocre turkey gives you dozens of options: smoked brisket, braised pork (perhaps on Parker House homemade rolls with cranberry sauce?), Whole smoked chicken, or, my personal favorite, ribs of any kind. I don’t have access to an outdoor grill area or a smoker, but I make sous vide pork ribs – with two sauces, as a feast of excessive demands – for my Thanksgiving main course this year, and I can’t wait to eat a bunch of ’em stuffed and mashed potatoes. If it’s wrong, I refuse to be right.