Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Like so many other proud American food lovers, I look forward to the Thursday in November that celebrates American heritage and, of course, complete decadence. It’s the day to gorge on family favorites, massive quantities of carbs and then collapse from the sheer weight of ingested food and drink. It’s also a day of futility — it’s impossible to resist another slice of succulent turkey, pumpkin pie or heaping mound of sweet potatoes. Yes, tradition normally rules the day, but sometimes this special dinner calls for some creativity. And with so many people looking for healthier meal alternatives, I wanted to offer some non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas to help elevate the meal and explore healthier items. This method also allows for guilt-free sips of your favorite aged Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay too. Enjoy.
Our Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
For an appetizer, it’s best to wet the palate with a small yet flavorful dish. This impressive. easy-to-prepare recipe pairs fresh, seasonal cauliflower, curry and decadent caviar – a delicious yet unique combination that definitely belongs in the non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas category. It will surprise and impress anyone at your Thanksgiving meal. Pair with Jordan Cuvée Champagne or Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay.
If you’re looking for another simple appetizer recipe to try this Thanksgiving, I recommend this flavorful cheese course to pair with a crisp white wine like Jordan Chardonnay. I prefer using aged Cypress Grove Midnight Moon goat cheese but Manchego can also be substituted. The citrus combination of blood orange, Meyer lemon and candied kumquat makes this appetizer a show-stopper at any dinner table and will especially impress your Thanksgiving guests this year.
Thanksgiving Turkey Tips
For the main course, turkey remains the star but some ingredients and guidelines can ramp up elegance and flavor. Start by choosing a heritage breed turkey, which retain historic characteristics no longer present in the majority of commercially raised birds. There is evidence that heritage breeds like Standard Bronze, Narragansett, Black Spanish and White Holland are better for you and their flavor is definitely worth the extra money. Look at Heritage Foods for options to be shipped to your door or visit your local farmer’s market.
Although there are many opinions surrounding wet brine versus dry brine for a roast turkey, I prefer a dry brine. Besides avoiding the hassle of storing a giant pot filled with water and raw poultry in your fridge overnight, a 24-hour dry brine allows salt to penetrate the fibers more readily and slowly work its way into the meat. This method also helps build a bridge to many wines you wouldn’t normally pair with poultry. Try adding a variety of fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, fresh ground pepper and garlic to the brine. Once roasted, the brine flavor shines through, allowing you to serve a variety of wine with the main course. A tip: For quicker cooking with juicier meat, I suggest butterflying or spatchcocking your bird.
Non-Turkey Entrée Recipe Ideas
If you’re looking for a turkey alternative this Thanksgiving, we recommend our chef’s Herb Roasted Pork Belly Porchetta recipe. Herb-roasted pork belly made in the Italian porchetta tradition (boneless pork roast with savory herbs) is a festive fall dinner entrée that is simple to prepare in advance, and its fresh herbs and spices complement the earthy notes in Bordeaux blends like Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. The savory herb rub includes a beautiful, flavorful balance of peppercorns, fennel seed, rosemary, sage, thyme and Meyer lemon. Another non-turkey favorite dish of mine to serve at Thanksgiving is a savory, Greek-inspired Leg of Lamb with Sumac Rub. If you’re really going non-traditional this Thanksgiving, serve with grilled pita, tzatziki and a glass of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon to make your meal complete and unique.
Recipes for sides are where you can really highlight non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas. Think mashed potatoes with a twist or unexpected vegetable combos that pair well with wine and keep people clamoring for seconds. Here are three re-inventive recipes to convert boring mashed potatoes into an elegant side dish. Explore spuds with Meyer lemon with toasted hazelnuts that pair with Jordan Chardonnay or sautéed mushrooms, caramelized shallots and herbs to stand up to a hearty Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. Acorn squash also makes for a delicious and colorful substitute for potatoes in our recipe. Reimagine the ordinary tater with one of three easy renditions–the addition of only a few ingredients can make a world of difference.
Cranberry sauce is a staple that made Americans avoid due to its texture and sweetness. You can get the same pop of purple color on your table with a beautiful beet salad. This fall salad’s grilled shallots and nuts complement the toasted oak nuances in red wine, making it a lovely cabernet salad pairing.
Abundant this time of year, pumpkin finds itself on many Thanksgiving tables. This pumpkin pie rendition combines the simplicity of a graham cracker crust with the festive touch of candied pumpkin seeds, as well as whipped cream infused with pumpkin seeds. With its beautiful presentation, this dessert is sure to become a holiday favorite.
If you’re looking for a fruit dessert, Blackberry Cobbler is a summertime favorite here at Jordan but with frozen berries available year-round, you can enjoy it as a Thanksgiving closer. Buttery dough and sweet blackberries served in ramekins elevate it for this special occasion.