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The Bird Is Not the Word

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As gorgeous as this is, I'd much rather have roast pork.

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I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t like turkey.

I do not like it in a brine.
I do not like it tied with twine.
I do not like it deeply fried.
I do not like it gravy-fied.

I could go on forever, but I’ll spare you further Seuss-isms. Just trust me: I actively dislike turkey. Even when it’s juicy and moist and flavorful, I still don’t like it. In fact, I could go the rest of my life without turkey and I would be just fine.

As Thanksgiving approaches, this presents a real dilemma. As a hostess, I feel somewhat obligated to serve turkey; my guests may feel cheated if it’s not on the menu. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to get excited about cooking and eating turkey. To be sure, there are some good recipes out there (like this juniper-rubbed version). But in the end, to lift a metaphor from elsewhere in the butcher aisle, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Especially if it’s a turkey. To me, at least.

If the purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks, I’d much gather ’round something for which I’m truly grateful! In that spirit, I’m toying with the idea of making a slow-roasted pork shoulder, a dish that is celebration in itself. It’s so easy to make, though, that it almost feels like cheating. Something more elaborate may be in order, such as a ballotine; it involves boning out a whole chicken, stuffing it with tasty bits, and rolling it up in foil (like a burrito) before poaching. It looks really cool, is fun to make, and serves a crowd nicely. And it can be really delicious.

Then again, it IS Thanksgiving. I’m truly torn. Should I be selfish and make something I’ll really want to eat? Or should I bow to tradition and–forgive the metaphor–give everyone the bird?

If you’re a turkey traditionalist, there’s no shortage of good recipes on FC’s Thanksgiving Dinner Guide, but if you’re not. . .well, I want to hear from you (and soon, please). I look to you, dear readers, for advice.

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  • Marcy3pu | 11/21/2009

    I can't stand the obligatory turkey either. I'm tired to death of the traditional turkey dinner. (Wow, can you hear the turkeys all over the world cheering?) Stuffing, cranberry sauce blah, blah, blah. Then there's the turkey left overs yuk! Talk about overkill... Anyway, lately I've been stepping out of the box with a fresh ham. Not spiral sliced, not smoked,not honey baked--fresh. Stuffed with an apple and sausage stuffing it's the deal! Sides include my mom's sweet & sour brussel spourts, mashed potatoes with turnips, wilted spinach and kale with thinly sliced red onions and hot parker house rolls. Dessert is a sweet potato pecan pie that is to die for. I'm in heaven--no turkeys allowed.

  • Cindycat | 11/18/2009

    For the two of us, I brine two Cornish Game Hens, then deep fry them. Like a tiny version of fried turkey.

    If you don't want to go to all the trouble of a turducken, you can buy one. Not cheap, but much easier.

    And a comment on side dishes. My grandmother never stuffed the turkey. We made the same recipe but always cooked it in a casserole dish and called it dressing. To this day, I buy stuffing mix to make my dressing.

  • Shanna_Aquaritopia | 11/17/2009

    My grandma cooked turkey all her life, twice a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas (along with ham and all the traditional sides). After bowing to traditional all her life like a good wife would, somewhere near her 80'th birthday she finally confessed to all that she HATES turkey........ and she never cooked one again. Nowadays she makes ham for Thanksgiving and Italian for Christmas. Only one assh*le ever complained, and he is only related to us by marriage. The rest of the family was happy to see grandma liberate herself : )

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