Tired of Turkey? Alternate Thanksgiving Options

October 5, 2017

Turkey has reigned supreme for decades as the holiday meal of choice. What’s turkey done to earn its crown? For many years it was an inexpensive choice, and the large size of the bird meant feeding a crowd was easy.

These days, tastes are more varied and a wide variety of dietary choices and needs mean traditional meals are becoming less common. On CTV Morning Live we showed a variety of options for your holiday meal. From roast beef, to salmon, pork and even Turducken, there are myriad ways to switch up Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you need advice or want to know more about any of the meats in Co-op stores, or featured on TV, head to the butcher shop inside Calgary-area Co-op Stores for fast, friendly advice. 

“Our meat staff are experts, we can help with any of your needs,” says Trevor Moore, Senior Operations Director, Meat, Deli and Bakery at Co-op. “We do all of the work; the boning, rolling, extra trimming and marinating, so you don’t have to. We can make recommendations for you, and we’re proud to say we have some of the best meat products and meat staff in the city.”

turduckenTry Tasty Turducken

It’s possible to make your own Turducken, but this labour-intensive feast takes time and planning.  An easier option is to pick up Co-op’s new frozen Bacon Wrapped Turducken.

This roast is a trio of poultry all rolled into one savoury meal. There’s chicken breast, duck breast and turkey breast, layered with Spolumbo’s sausage and the whole roast is wrapped in bacon. It’s a meat-lover’s dream. This roast can be prepared traditionally in the oven, or use a slow cooker for a completely hassle-free holiday. Once it’s fully cooked, place it under the broiler to crisp and brown the bacon blanket and you’re a holiday hero.

beefBoned and Rolled Prime Rib Roast

Beef lovers will enjoy this easy to prep and easy to serve roast that looks as good as it tastes.

The Co-op butcher removes the bones from the whole prime rib roast, prepares the meat and then ties the bones back in. The advantage to this is that it’s easier to slice once cooked, the bones are still able to add tonnes of flavour, and those who love to gnaw crispy bits off the succulent bones still have that option.

There are a variety of roasts at different price points for customers including 14 Day AA beef, 21 Day AAA beef and Co-op’s signature 28 Day Dry Aged AAA beef all cut from 100% Western Canadian Beef.  In selected locations we have Fresh Top Grass Beef,   which is raised 100% grass fed and in Alberta with no antibiotics and no hormones. 

duckRoasted Duck - Co-op Pure Duck

If you’re looking for a holiday protein that’s just a bit more special, duck is a great choice. Co-op’s Pure Duck is a 100% Canadian product from an Ontario family farm. King Cole Ducks are fed all-vegetable grain feeds and given fresh well water. They are free to run in spacious barns, and no antibiotics or hormones are used.

Duck is also quite easy to prepare, but it makes a meal that’s just a bit out of the ordinary. Whether you choose to roast duck in the oven or to give it a smoky flavour from the grill, first rub a bit of vegetable oil into the skin then season lightly with a savoury spice paste. Stuff the cavity with chunks of apple, celery, onion and orange wedges, then cook for about two and a half to three hours at 325°F (based on a 4-6 lb. bird).

King Cole recommends not carving the bird like you would a turkey. Instead use poultry shears to cut the bird in half down the breast, then along each side of the backbone, and between the leg and breast. Serve the portioned duck on a festive platter.

crown roastFit for a King: Pork Crown Roast

The ultimate roast meat dish may also be one of the most convenient. Co-op’s butchers have prepared fresh Pork Crown Roasts that take the guesswork out of a fancy cut.

“It’s that convenience factor; let us do the work for you,” says Moore of Co-op’s Crown Roast. “When you can pull that out of the oven and serve it to the guests, it looks amazing.”

With a halo of bones creating the crown effect and rich savoury stuffing in the centre, a Pork Crown Roast is an eye catching dish. The in-store butchers have done all the prep work, so all you’ll need to do is add your own stuffing to the top and bake, or simply bake it unstuffed if you prefer.

On Alberta Pork’s ‘Passion for Pork’ website, Executive Sous Chef Paul Shewchuk from the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge recommends first rubbing the crown roast with a drizzle of canola oil, then rubbing the roast with garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 4 hours then cook at 325°F until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the crown roast reads 145°F (63°C). (That should be about 10-15 minutes per pound) Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

lamb2Roasted Leg of Alberta Lamb

In addition to producing some of the world’s best pork, Alberta farmers raise fine lamb too. Co-op’s lamb is from Sungold Meats in nearby Innisfail, Alberta and it’s fresh, not frozen. Read more about Sungold and learn 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Lamb here.

A leg of lamb is moist, tender, and juicy and can feed a crowd. Lamb also works well done in the oven or on a BBQ.

While lamb may have had a reputation years ago as being tough and gamey, Alberta lamb is sweet and mild tasting. It pairs well with mint and rosemary, curry or Mediterranean spices or even when basted with maple syrup.

Leftover lamb is perfect on a salad (thinly slice it and top with a fresh herb vinaigrette) or chop leftover meat finely and use it in a Shepherd’s Pie.

salmonBarbequed Cedar Plank Organic Chinook Salmon Fillet

From the pristine, cool waters of Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island comes our next alternative dish for the holidays. Organic Chinook Salmon from Creative Salmon in Tofino, B.C. is sustainably farmed using organic feed and farming practises. 

Moore says using a fresh Creative Salmon full fillet is a treat because it can’t be any fresher.

“We get it flown in so it’s a very fresh product and a unique flavour,” explains Moore.

Use a large cedar plank, available at Co-op’s meat department as your base. You’ll need to soak the cedar plank in water for an hour or two before you use it.  Soaking keeps the plank from scorching and prolongs its life.

Fill up the sink with a couple inches of water and put some large heavy cans or a big pot on top to weigh it down.

When you’re ready to go, rub the top side of the plank with some oil, add your fillet and grill. You can cook salmon until it’s flaky, but many chefs prefer it just a bit rare for maximum flavour.

Cedar Plank Salmon is both fast and easy because it cooks in about 12-15 minutes and requires minimal cleanup.

chicken2Hutterite Roasting Chicken

Alberta Hutterite chicken is known as some of the best quality poultry you can buy, and Co-op is proud to offer chicken from the Alberta Lone Pine Colony. Larger than average size chickens, choosing a Hutterite bird is a great size compromise when a regular chicken is too small and a turkey is too large.

Lone Pine raises its chickens humanely in Stettler, Alberta with plenty of fresh air and space to roam. They’re given homegrown grain and no hormones or antibiotics.

Roast a Hutterite bird as you would a fresh chicken or turkey, but you’ll notice how much more moist and tender the meat is. If you haven’t tried Hutterite chicken, use the holidays as a special occasion, though they’re available year round in Co-op’s meat department. Be warned, they go fast when they arrive!

shepherds pieVery Vegetastic!

If there’s a vegetarian in your life, you know salad or a vegetable side dish isn’t the best way to make a vegetarian feel special at a holiday meal. Make something that will have them feeling festive too.

A vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie that uses lentil and veggie mix instead of ground beef as its base is a nice treat that even non-vegetarians may like, or a beautiful Vegetarian Butternut Squash Risotto  might also draw the eyes of even the meat-eaters at the table. 

There are so many options to liven up your holiday dinner. Try one of the many alternatives to turkey, and don’t forget to stop by for some one-on-one advice from Co-op’s in-store meat experts.

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