Why? Why do we continue to push turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving every single year? It doesn’t even make sense. It’s not even turkey season in Mississippi. If we can shut down entire oil pipelines, the least we could do is get rid of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Around this time last year, I wrote an article about my disdain for turkey on Thanksgiving. A year later, and hopefully a year wiser, my feelings haven’t changed. The mere thought of meal after meal of turkey makes me want to fast for the entire week. So, guess what? I’m protesting turkey for Thanksgiving again this year, except this time everyone in the family is going to know.
Last year, I detailed a few recipes for venison to substitute the traditional turkey for your family meal. However, I failed to cook any of those dishes and had to settle for ham. My protest didn’t gain any traction, and I’m not even sure that my family even realized that I didn’t eat the turkey. This year, things will be different. I’ve already planned to grill my deer rolls for our Thursday meal and have even thought of adding some other items to the menu just to prove my point. You’re probably thinking about how selfish that is…and you’re right. Life is too short to force myself to eat something that I don’t want to eat. I had to do that for eighteen years while living with my parents. Now, I’m going to eat according to the wishes of my palate.
Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity to showcase different foods to family and friends. You’ve got a captive audience, and the entire day pretty much revolves around the meal. So why would you want to waste the opportunity cooking the same old traditional thunder-chicken? Most anybody can whip up a turkey for their Thanksgiving meal. Now, that doesn’t mean it will taste good or keep you from burning your house down. I still have visions of the fire department having to show up to extinguish a fried turkey gone wrong. Regardless, cooking a turkey can’t be that difficult or fewer people would do it. That being said, I need to cook something on Thanksgiving that would be the polar opposite of turkey and take my protest to the next level. It needs to be something that my wife’s family leaves thinking that I’m either crazy or a genius.
The grilled deer rolls are a given. Not only are they a great substitute for turkey, they are delicious and there’s never a wrong time to cook them. It’s also deer season so it makes even more sense. As a bonus, I know my kids will eat them and not go hungry for the day. If you aren’t exactly sure what I’m talking about when I mention deer rolls, it’s very simple. Soak some strips of deer meat in Dale’s Seasoning for a while, roll them up in bacon with a slice of jalapeno pepper in the middle, and toss it on the grill. Some folks use cream cheese in the middle, as well, but I do not. If you decide to cook these, make sure you tend the grill or you will surely burn them. I cook mine low and slow in order to keep them juicy.
Deer rolls aren’t quite enough to convince my in-laws that I’m crazy, or genius, so I need something else. What screams that I’m making a “turkey protest” louder than anything else? Seafood. Hopefully, in the coming weeks I’ll be filling the freezer with more deer meat for the year. With the price of beef going through the roof, and with my wife’s blessing because of this, I plan to kill as many deer as the state allows. Am I being selfish, again? You betcha! To be able to make room for the incoming barrage of freshly procured venison, I’ve got to empty out some of the current contents of the freezer. This week is the perfect opportunity to do it.
Currently housed in our deep freezer are bags of fresh gulf shrimp, redfish, catfish, frog legs, and alligator tail. This week just feels like the perfect time to thin the crowd and introduce my in-laws to some of Mississippi’s tastiest critters. They aren’t “city folk” or uppity by any stretch, but I’m willing to bet they’ve never had a swamp Thanksgiving before. Neither have I, but this year is the time to change all of that. Wouldn’t it be a proper Thanksgiving to cook a meal that is made with the things our state provides us? Actually, it would be downright hypocritical to not use wild game from Mississippi for our Thanksgiving meal. I’m thinking grilled shrimp and redfish accompanied by fried catfish, frog legs, and alligator tail would be a feast fit for a…Mississippian. When the Pilgrims had their supposed celebratory meal for Thanksgiving, I’ll bet you that they weren’t eating pronghorn. As for the vegetables, I’ll be a little more lenient. There’s a vegan somewhere that can make that argument. Whether you decide to break tradition and join my protest, or not, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. And if you do eat turkey, I hope it makes you too sleepy to hunt…that way I can kill the deer.