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Is the traditional Thanksgiving the most overrated food holiday?

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Yes, says me.

Seriously, who the hell really likes turkey?

No one, outside of Thanksgiving and maybe Xmas, ever says, "Hey, lets go out for some Turkey tonight!" Or "This is a special occasion, I want me some big bird turkey!"

No, of course not. People say those things about steak ("I want to celebrate at a steakhouse"), or seafood ("I'm looking for the best fish n chips" etc.), or even chicken (e.g. "I want to find a great roast chicken").

But turkey? No way.

I mean if the traditional Thanksgiving dinner was so great, why isn't it a common item on menus?

Why aren't there dedicated Turkey Restaurants, like there are for seafood, chicken, or even hot dogs?

And how many posts do you see on local Chowhound boards asking for "The Best Turkey Dinner in your City"?

I mean, c'mon, without gravy, mashed spuds, and whatever else to make that darn overstuffed bird palatable, who would really enjoy turkey?

  1. I agree. You can keep yer turkey, sweet potato casserole, jellied cranberry , and green bean casserole.

    I'm happy to just have stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. I'd much prefer a lovely prime rib roast instead of turkey!

    1. I used to think turkey was a horrible, dry meat and I could never understand the appeal. I actually hated turkey, too. Until one year we had a very small Thanksgiving of just me and my husband and instead of buying the usual giant frozen turkey I bought a FRESH leg-thigh piece and baked it like a chicken for just around and hour. It was sooo succulent and juicy. The flavor was amazing. I realized that freshness made all the difference.

      I also love gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, fresh bread, cranberry sauce and STUFFING is the best part. Oh, and pies for dessert (note the plural). Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday. It's not always up to me what type of turkey I will be having on Thanksgiving day because it depends on what the plans are in terms of whether we are hosting or invited or what I am assigned to cook. Last year we were a large party and we had a rice stuffed smoked turducken (farm fresh birds) and let me tell you that the meat had a smoke ring, it was deee-licious, every single layer. But regular old frozen ball turkey with the plastic wrapper, I do avoid that if at all possible.

      1. For the last two years, I've had my in-laws over for Thanksgiving dinner, and made a beautiful turkey using Alton Brown's brining recipe. I make challah rolls from scratch, my wife and I make a pumpkin chiffon pie, and the in-laws bring traditional green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and sometimes a Honey-Baked ham too. I enjoy cooking, and hardly ever get to cook for them, so even though it's a bit of an ass-grinder, I always look forward to the challenge.

        However, this year, everyone has requested that I make buffalo burgers for Thanksgiving instead, and have a variety of chips available. I was surprised, but if that's what everyone wants, that's what I will do. My wife has raved about my buffalo burgers (served on King's Hawaiian rolls) to her parents, and they've never tried buffalo before. It'll be a lot easier, and I think deep down, people would rather have really good burgers and chips than the standard turkey dinner. At least I plan to make a Momofuku Milk Bar crack pie for dessert, to put SOME effort into things.

        1. No.
          And I've been to many restaurants that serve turkey. My favorite school lunch is turkey in gravy (they roast the turkeys, then cube the meat, it's not from a can). I buy several turkeys when they are cheap to have throughout the year. I like to grill the thighs and legs and make it into enchiladas, and roast the breasts in lemon olive oil, oregano, rosemary. Lots of folks love turkey sandwiches, too.
          I'm going to roast a turkey this weekend for our son to have while my husband and I go to my folks' place in another state. Son has to stay here to play some concerts, so I'll make up the turkey and lots of gravy, put it in serving sizes and put it in the freezer for him.

          5 Replies
          1. re: wyogal

            I'm another one who cooks turkey parts throughout the year -- We particularly like braised turkey legs in soups and stew throughout the cold months.

            I think there are pretty rational answers to most of your questions:

            >>Seriously, who the hell really likes turkey?
            -- a lot of us.

            No one, outside of Thanksgiving and maybe Xmas, ever says, "Hey, lets go out for some Turkey tonight!" Or "This is a special occasion, I want me some big bird turkey!"

            -- roasting a whole bird is a lot of work, yes -- and most folks mentally just keep it as the centrepiece for a holiday -- you could ask the same question about Champagne. Most folks wouldn't dream of drinking Champagne unless there was a wedding, birth, engagement, graduation, or some other celebration...and there are those who would say "who really likes it anyway?" But yet there are plenty of people who drink it regularly.

            I mean if the traditional Thanksgiving dinner was so great, why isn't it a common item on menus?
            --see above (and there ARE plenty of places that serve roast turkey)

            Why aren't there dedicated Turkey Restaurants, like there are for seafood, chicken, or even hot dogs?

            -- How many seafood places focus on just one kind of seafood? How many chicken places are there that DON'T focus on fried chicken? (and even then...gosh -- mashed potatoes, gravy....)

            And how many posts do you see on local Chowhound boards asking for "The Best Turkey Dinner in your City"?
            -- because, as above, it's mentall just a holiday dish...and most folks make their own turkey dinner (and there are PLENTY of posts right now asking about sourcing birds and pre-made Tgiving dinners)

            I mean, c'mon, without gravy, mashed spuds, and whatever else to make that darn overstuffed bird palatable, who would really enjoy turkey?
            -- come to my house next week -- good roasted turkey IS possible -- fresh, preferably free-range -- turkey doesn't have to be cottony, dry, OR tasteless.

            1. re: sunshine842

              But there are dedicated turkey restaurants... http://www.turkeyville.com/
              http://originaljustturkey.com/home.html

              To the OP: I order turkey sandwiches if the menu notes it is made from an in house cooked turkey. I also order hot turkey sandwiches when they are on the menu, also noting they roast the turkey in the restaurant...

              As noted in many posts, especially this year, it all depends on how you prepare the turkey. I buy frozen turkey during the year, after I use up the free/really inexpensive ones I get at the store now, since it is still less expensive than...just about everything in the grocery store. The whole turkey makes at least four hot meals, two cold meals and a meal of soup. For the two of us.

              1. re: Cathy

                I love Thanksgiving and all the foods associated with it. I think the turkey, giblet gravy, stuffing, green beans with sliced almonds, soft rolls, jello salad with port wine and bing cherries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, mince pie are all great. And there are certainly a lot of other traditional Thanksgiving foods which I have not mentioned. I guess with the critics here, we just have to agree to disagree.

                Cathy, I placed this as a reply to your posting because I wanted to add another restaurant that specializes in turkey, although, Sunshine842, I will admit that they are rare. There is a restaurant in Valparaiso, Indiana, about 50 miles southeast of Chicago, called the "Strongbow Turkey Inn," which has specialized in turkey (and I believe raises its own turkeys) since at least the 1950s. I would give you the link but my computer incompetence prevents me from doing so. Anyway, you can find it on Google in about five seconds. The food is very good.

              2. re: sunshine842

                ">>Seriously, who the hell really likes turkey?
                -- a lot of us."

                No damn kidding. I for one am a huge fan.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  +1. Cook 'em all year, usually roasting them on the BBQ in the summer. GREAT salads.....

            2. Hey, I love roast turkey. One reason it isn't fixed more is that turkeys are so damn big;
              roasting one is a major undertaking. I've never understood why breeders haven't
              come up with a capon-sized bird.