If the thought of turkey turns you off, a less traditional thanksgiving feast may be in order. Like the family on the movie, A Christmas Story, some families enjoy alternatives to Thanksgiving turkey like Peking Roast Duck. Additionally, others may opt to try these more traditional alternatives to turkey.
Traditionally, turkey was a favorite for thanksgiving over ham since ham was an ‘everyday’ food. However, as many families grew bored with traditional turkey on thanksgiving, regular meats such as ham have crept their way onto the thanksgiving table. In some homes, ham and turkey are rotated over the holidays. In others, ham is served buffet style alongside turkey as an alternative meat. Ham is also simpler to cook than turkey, since it is already cooked when you purchase it. Most Thanksgiving ham preparation revolves around heating and glazing the meat.
In England, a traditional holiday meal would have included turkey, chicken, geese, swans or peacocks. While the turkey is the bird of choice for holiday meals in America, any other type of bird will do. If you have your heart set on a holiday bird, a roast chicken will provide the texture of fowl with a slightly different flavor.
If your family can’t stand the thought of letting go of turkey for thanksgiving, a novelty menu incorporating turducken might liven up the table. Turducken is a variation of an old European dish consisting of birds nested inside of one another to create a roast. In England, Yorkshire Pie consists of 5 different birds layered into a pie crust.
Turducken, which originated in Louisiana, consists of a chicken stuffed with breadcrumb stuffing or sausage and then stuffed inside a duck. The duck is then put inside a de-boned turkey and the entire thing is roasted. Many restaurants and supermarket delis offer turducken as a specialty roast around Thanksgiving.
Deep Fried Turkey
Deep frying a turkey is another form of preparation to come from Louisiana. Here marinades are injected into the raw bird. The bird is then fried in peanut oil at a temperature of 250 degrees. This creates a turkey that is juicy inside with a crispy, tasty outer layer. Deep fried turkeys may be seasoned in different ways by injecting them with various marinades.
Brining a Turkey
While deep frying a turkey seems to be a fading fad, the next craze in turkey preparation is brining the bird. Brining involves soaking the turkey in a salty, sugary water solution. Chefs may also add flavoring to the brine to flavor the turkey prior to roasting.
The theory behind brining is that it opens the proteins in the meat and causes the turkey to absorb the marinade flavoring. The solution becomes trapped in the turkey and causes the meat to remain juicy when the chef roasts the bird.
If you’ve never cooked a large piece of meat before, the idea of cooking a large, frozen turkey may seem too intimidating. Starting small with a thawed roast may seem easier. Roasts may be cooked directly in an oven or on your counter in a crock pot.
An entire meal may be created by adding onions, carrots and potatoes to slow cook along with your roast and the drippings may be made into gravy to serve over your meat and vegetables.
Whatever you choose to serve on your table this holiday season, remember to enjoy the fruits of your efforts. And tell your guests to let go of their preconceived notions of what a Thanksgiving meal should and shouldn’t be. After all, you are the one doing the cooking, not them.