Probably about half of the Thanksgiving meals that my family has had excluded turkey. We usually have seafood gumbo, blend of the bayou (hard to describe, but it's a seafood cassarole), oyster dressing...seeing a pattern here? When we do have poultry, we have turkey, but we also have pheasant, quail, chukar, and dove. And the turkey is almost always smoked or fried.
I should have mentioned too that it'll be a small Thanksgiving, with only 5 of us. I didn't mention beef before because my mom isn't into it and when she does eat beef, she wants it well done. That will be such a waste for a prime rib.
Now quail sounds interesting. I've never made that at home.
I'm now also considering porchetta or rack of lamb.
Goodness, there's an incredible number of non-turkey possibilties. How about a goose, for instance? Or a rack of lamb? Or a fresh ham? Game is readily available, nowdays, and would tie-in with the fall harvest theme of Thanksgiving.
If you want to be truly traditional, there is no evidence that the Pilgrims had turkey at that famous meal. Just the oppostie, in fact. But they did have wildfowl. So duck would fit nicely.
If you do opt for quail, two things to keep in mind. First, it will take two to three per serving. Second, quail generally comes one of two ways: whole or spatchcocked. Make sure you know which style you're getting, because they are usually cooked differently.
Seafood is still on my mind because Dungeness season just opened. The problem is that hubby is picky about seafood. No crab (too much work), no mussels, no clams, and not the biggest lobster fan. My family is just complicated!
I would go seafood then. Does your husband like any other crustaceans? What about fish? Or maybe oysters?
Another option would be to contact local hunting guides and inquire about buying fowl from them after hunts. An outfit that we hunted with in South Dakota a few years ago sold of a lot of what their clients killed because they didn't have the ability to take them home. I would highly recommend this over buying any domesticated fowl.
I think I can get a goose, but I'll have to look for it. I made it once. It was kind of a novelty for my family. After all that work, they like Chinese BBQ goose better, which is not something I can do at home.
My husband eat some fish, as long as they aren't bones involve. He eats scallops if they're pan seared. Nothing else in shells. When it comes to lobsters and crabs, the rest of the family generally like them boiled. I'm thinking if there could be a way that I can incorporate some fish in a seafood boil, or just have to make something else to go with the seafood boil.
Another thing I have to consider is the amount of food. We're not big eaters, but I tend to always cook too much. So, there will most likely be leftovers. I need something that can stand up well for at least the next 2 days after.
Maybe it'll be easier to just go out to a Chinese restaurant. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif
I say cook whatever your family likes. Thanksgiving is about enjoying good food and being with the ones you love, not cooking from a list of "acceptable" dishes. For example, if your family likes seared scallops and risotto, then go for it. I think people get way too caught up on what is traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving. My family has started its own traditions when it comes to holiday food, and it's great. I would encourage you to do the same.
We're the same as Ishbel here Down Under - no Thanksgiving, but for Christmas I often do a light seafood starter, then a roast pork leg. Then hubby loves a steamed fruit pudding with hot custard. Really handy on a hot summer's day, with all the trimmings. It's a waste of time and effort as it's just too hot to be cooking it and heats you and the house up too much. But, It would be ideal for a cold winter's day with a simple creamy soup instead of the seafood. Loads of different types of bread with real butter. Only trouble is, you can't move for a few hours after that, and we crash out for a rest with the air-con. and fan on the sofa!
Personally, I'd prefer to do a cold seafood starter, family style (for example, oysters au naturale, cooked then chilled tiger prawns, some scallops in a spicy lemon and parsley dressing) to share with just a light salad and crusty bread.
Then I'd go a pot roast of beef, served simply with the veg from the bottom of the pot, sauce reduced a little and thickened with cornflour. Then something light and icy cold for afters. Like frozen yoghurt with fresh berries. If bony fish is off the menu, try some shark. There are no bones and in my mind the flavour is better than many fish. Just S&P then gentle fry in butter and a bit of oil. Can accompany with a dish of roast veg., tossed in rosemary, cracked black pepper, and thyme.
I know my main is hot, at least the rest is cold. With the pot roast you would get a couple more meals out of it once you add some more fresh cooked veg. Or make it into a pan toasted sanwich with some nice cheese and arugula.