We don’t do turkey anymore. A few years ago there was a turkey disaster, and we faced our Thanksgiving dinner with an array of lovely side dishes and hastily prepared chicken thighs standing in for the main attraction. So the family decided that it was a good time to ditch the traditional main course and go with something everyone preferred: a standing rib roast of beef. Same sides, different star.
I love all manner of birds though, and quail is easy to find here in South Louisiana. The local Super1Foods has them in the freezer occasionally; a local producer shows up at the farmers market once in a while, and Whole Foods had them the last time I was there. Two quail make a perfect serving, and they’re quick and easy to cook. They’re delicious, too, and fall pears, cranberries, and turnips complement the rich meat so well. I added the zucchini because the mom in me can’t bear to see a dinner plate without something green on it. Habits die hard. This recipe for zucchini is a nice change from the usual zucchini preparations. Shredding the vegetable and squeezing out the liquid improves the texture considerably.
Turnips are the wild card in this meal. Some people love them, others not so much. I fall on the not-so-much side. I love the idea of turnips — they’re a nice substitute and change from potato with much less starch, but they can be bitter. I thought I’d try brining them to see what happens, and I found that much of the bitterness is removed when taking this step. It’s up to you and your tastebuds. Hey. Maybe that could be the new term for your “foodie” friends and family. The term foodie has lost its appeal; it’s almost an insult these days.
This entrée is easy to make. There are several steps involved, but none is difficult. And components of the meal can be prepared in advance making the final cooking that much simpler. It’s also a dish that isn’t going to make you feel overfull and uncomfortable, which is a boon in this season of edible excess. To start I’d suggest Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon: soothing and seasonal, it’s a warm way to open the meal. So whether you want to treat yourself, surprise a special someone, or have a holiday menu that will please a wide range of diners, this menu should do you proud.
I sincerely hope that this Thanksgiving brings you joy and genuine gratitude. For the music, I’ve selected a playlist with the theme of hopeful thanks. Wherever and however you celebrate the day, may you feel love, peace, and appreciation.