Alternative Thanksgiving Dinners

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Thanksgiving does not have to be all about turkey. In fact, the first meal likely featured venison and other wild game. This year, if you want a change of pace, consider serving an alternative Thanksgiving dinner to your traditional turkey. It can mean changing up the sides or serving an entirely new cuisine. Families with multiple holiday meals to attend will especially appreciate the change of pace. After three holiday dinners, turkey does get tiresome, no matter how good it tastes.

Try a Cajun-Style Meal

Alternative Thanksgiving dinner can include a deep fried Cajun turkey

Photo: Facebook/Louisville Rescue Mission

Though Cajun influences are more prevalent in East Texas, it’s still perfectly acceptable in the Hill Country to enjoy some jambalaya or gumbo. The best part of a Cajun Thanksgiving is that it does not deviate too far from the norm. Try a deep-fried, flavor-injected turkey. The quick cooking process leaves the turkey moist, and the injected flavors make it tasty down to the bone. Several restaurants, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen sell fried turkeys at Thanksgiving because making it at home can be extremely dangerous. With this, serve up some jambalaya instead of stuffing. Jambalaya has rice, seasonings, and whatever meats you have available. Think of a Cajun version of fried rice. Gumbo and cornbread can also accompany the meal. Serve up any vegetables you desire, but for a real Southern flair, make a pot of collard or turnip greens with a ham hock or bacon. Just like Texans, Louisianans love their pecans, so make a pecan pie for dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Vegetarian Dinner

Vegan Lasagna for an alternative Thanksgiving dinner

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether you don’t like turkey, have vegetarian friends or family, or just want to try a meatless alternative Thanksgiving dinner. The main dish can be a vegetarian turkey substitute such as Tofurkey, but why not change traditions even more? Serve up a vegetarian lasagna or a pasta dish. If you have meat-eaters in your group, make spaghetti or ravioli with a meatless sauce or filling, and have a side of meatballs available for those who wish to partake. Though a simple salad will suffice as a side for a hearty, meatless main, consider using the bounty of the fall. Roast some brussels sprouts and winter squash cubes together for a tasty, savory side with your vegetarian meal. Homemade rolls and an apple pie round out this meal.

Go Wild With Wild Game

Alternative Thanksgiving meals can include wild game like venison

Photo: Facebook/North Arm Knives

Thanksgiving falls neatly into hunting season, and for hunters, both occasions are reasons to celebrate. Why not bring your hunting harvest to the dinner table for an alternative Thanksgiving feast? Venison may have been served at the first Thanksgiving. What better meat could you have for your family’s celebration? Treat venison as you would any other red meat. In fact, many of the same preparation methods used for beef will work for venison. Pair the meat with an equally bold side. Stuffing with sweet apples and tart dried cranberries will accent this meat. Traditional sides, such as mashed potatoes and green beans, mean that people uncertain of trying venison still can get their fill. Serve up a pumpkin pie for dessert for those who are still hungry.