Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving - Going Rogue

To me Thanksgiving is a pretty horrible holiday. Sure it's nice to have a couple of days off and see family and such but the actual meal is awful. I don't mean this to be an attack on those who have prepared my Thanksgiving meals over the years, I mean it to be an attack on the food.

First off, turkey is horrible. It doesn't much matter how it's prepared, it's dry and pretty tasteless. I know, I know, you have a recipe that makes it good, or you fry it and it's wonderful. That's all bull, turkey sucks, you know it and I know it. Why don't we have duck or goose or even chicken if we must eat a bird. Turkey is food for people on a diet, not for celebratory eating.

Not only is turkey horrid, most home cooks aren't properly prepared to cook it right. So you have already stressed home cooks trying to cook some fowl meat that is naturally devoid of fat/flavor. Gee, thanks, that sounds great. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if turkey was any good, you'd make it at home more than once a year.

Perhaps because turkey is so hard to do right or because of the sheer volume of food that is needed, the rest of the meal is like a Sandra Lee show gone horribly wrong. How many cans of food must be killed every Thanksgiving before the carnage ends? Thanksgiving sucks because it's casserole friendly. There's sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole or any number of other casseroles. All these casseroles have 2 things in common, canned/frozen vegetables and cream of mushroom soup. I don't have much against canned or frozen vegetables, fresh is of course better, but frozen cauliflower or corn or whatever is sometimes the better option. Cream of mushroom soup, however, is never acceptable. It's a deal breaker for me and it's a part of way too many casseroles.

Casseroles are also pot luck and travel friendly so guests can bring someting to Thanksgiving so the host doesn't do all the cooking. Say it with me, casseroles aren't the answer. What casseroles are, is gross. Just the sight of 9 out of 10 casseroles makes me sick. Is a dinner where I'm going to have to pass something that the mere sight makes me throw up in my mouth sound like fun to you? Me neither.

Nearly every Thanksgiving I've been to, I've only been able to eat two or 3 of the menu items. And that's only if there's ham. I usually end up eating rolls and mashed potatoes. If you're unlucky enough to have to travel to a Thanksgiving or hosting your own, you then have to eat leftover turkey and casserole for the next 3 days. It sucked on Thursday, it's going to be 75% worse by Saturday.

My solution to all of this is simple. Pare the meal down, way down. Dump the turkey, make a roast or a ham. Try to make a fresh vegetable, like a ratatouille, sauteed cauliflower, steamed broccoli or something like that. A macaroni and cheese or cheesy potato dish that can be made ahead of time is another nice side dish. If you feel like you still need mashed potatoes or stuffing go ahead and add them too. That's about it other than the bread. All of the creamy side dishes should go by the wayside. It's all just too much and needless. Your host wants to enjoy everyone's company as well so let them by not expecting 10 dishes. My guess is that more food gets wasted on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year and it's wasted because it's gross.

The only other thing to make the day go better would be to dump the Lions from the traditional Thanksgiving day football game and schedule the previous year's Superbowl winner on that day instead. That way we have a better shot at seeing a good football team play. I'd prefer to get rid of the Cowboys too, but over the past 20 years they've been pretty good most years.

This should go without saying, but drink good beer or wine on Thanksgiving. Splurge and buy a couple of Smokestack series beers to take to your host's house instead of a casserole. Go ask your local wine merchant what wine you should be serving at Thanksgiving and get a couple of bottles of each or ask your guests to bring their choice from a list of 5 or 6 wines.

I'm probably never going to get rid of my annual date with green bean casserole, turkey and Detroit Lions football, but a boy can dream. I just have to focus on the good things about the holiday, good beer and my family, and enjoy my long weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving? In my mind there's no such thing.


emawkc said...

Tradition around our parts is to bring the Beaujolais nouveau. It's hit and miss, but it's supposed to be pretty good this year.

KC Wort Hog said...

psshh, brine a turkey & see what you think. I'll never go back. We roast a whole chicken at least 2-3 times a month and brine it every time - super juicy meat that's rich & flavorful. The only reason we don't do turkeys is due to the increased level of effort (it's just 2 of us). But really, brined turkey (which is then roasted or smoked) is damn good, mister pissy pants. ;)

And so is dressing with dried cranberries & walnuts in it, and so is my fresh cranberry/orange/persimmon sauce. And freshly baked bread with fresh-herb butter. I think your Thanksgiving menu needs to step out of the '80s. :)

m.v. said...

excellent point, you should blame injuns for this, why didn't they feed a steak to pilgrims

theshovel said...

I concur. I'd rather have ribs. Maybe turkey brats if we must have turkey.

Donna said...

WHAT???? Turkey rules. I'm sorry your taste buds have been perverted. Believe me, if all that traditional stuff wasn't loved by my family, I wouldn't go to the trouble. This year I've taken a poll, asking my family members this question: If you could only have one dish for Thanksgiving, what would it be? Their answers: Home-made noodles; mashed potatoes; broccoli and rice casserole; Oreo dessert; turkey; dressing.

Xavier Onassis said...

KC Wort Hog is right. Brining is the key. And a brine isn't just salt water. It is a chilled, overnight infusion of flavor and juiciness. There are many brining recipes.

Cooking the turkey overnight is the ultimate sin! It only takes a few hours to cook a moist, flavorful turkey with a crisp, candy-like skin.

There is never a casserole in sight at my dinners. No one brings anything. I make it all myself.

Leftover turkey sandwiches, turkey salad made with mayonaisse and chopped celery, that's good eatin' for days!

Chimpotle said...

You're like the Andy Rooney of food blogging.

real estate in Vancouver said...

Okay, the food sometimes is not good as we expect. But Thanksgiving is not only about food. It's one of my most favorite days in the year because our whole family meet together and enjoy time spent together after long time. However, the atmosphere is much better when the dinner is very well prepared and tasty for everybody. Despite the fact that the Canadian Thanksgiving was few weeks ago I wish everybody happy Thanksgiving.


Nuke said...

I really do not care for the big holiday turkey. I like the bird in other ways, the 2 best being cajun turkey deli meat and turkey brats. But I have to side with Bull that 90% of the people I have encountered serve a boring bird. But more often than not I prefer turkey to ham, and I'd take a good burger over either.

If the menu is turkey, I usually put a little on my plate to avoid pissing off the cook, then carb load. Taters, stuffing, gravy and rolls. Corn or green beans (non casserole) are acceptable.

I am not sure of this years menu, but it isn't turkey. I do know that I am the designated booze bringer, because I bring the good stuff.

coreyo said...


that's all.

JJSKCK said...

I thought I was the only one who didn't have to worry about gaining weight on Thanksgiving.

I simply don't care for traditional Thanksgiving dishes. They aren't what I like to eat. Other than pie, there isn't anything on a Thanksgiving menu that I'd order willingly in a restaurant.

jill said...

no casseroles here! stuffing, cranberry apple sauce, peas, roasted acorn squash, brined turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. proud to say i've never, ever had green bean casserole.

Muddy Mo said...

Chimpo: "You're like the Andy Rooney of food blogging."


Faith said...

I'm starting to think that next year, we'll do a lamb roast instead. Because leftover lamb is ALWAYS a good thing. YUM.

Anonymous said...

You know what, you are right. Turkey IS shit. It's a shitbird and a stupid retard bird that can't even fly because it is all tit.

I too despite the turkey. Ham is the way to go.