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Yes, it's 100 degrees out there ... but what would you put on a Wild Game Thanksgiving menu?

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We have a new theme each year and we just nailed down Montana as the location, wild game as the theme!

What would you put on the menu? Not just the meat dishes, but the sides and dessert?

Rule is to use traditional Thanksgiving ingredients but in a way that reflects the annual theme.

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  1. First, I'd choose the "colour weight" of the meal. Wild game is often darker and richer, at least in preparation (although often lower in fat). So, do you go with heavy/dark meat and light everything else, or rich-rich-rich for the entire spread?
    Green Apple French bread dressing= "light;" Chestnut cornbread stuffing="heavy."

    One sort of obnoxious planning thing I've actually pulled off the last three years is have every color of the ROYGBIV rainbow represented twice, but calling BIV 2 not 3 colours. Makes for interesting variety and a beautiful table.

    1. Do you have a source for game? What about a trio of birds? Like goose, duck and pheasant?

      I think wild turkey sounds better than it tastes, although I do remember one particularly good bird but then again, it was wrapped in bacon. (lots of turkey hunters in my family)

      I remember a Canada goose one Christmas where the host did bite size chunks of meat on the grill. It has a light sauce on it. OMG, it was the best!

      We have a local source for bison, which I like. I think that is generally available most places if you order ahead of time. An elk loin maybe?

      I would go rich-rich-rich because I am remembering holiday meals of goose, German potato dumplings and super-rich dark gravy.

      1. The Sage Hen (Sage Grouse) is a popular range bird in Montana (and Wyoming) and is naturally sage flavored. Roasting a capon with sage would carry your theme very nicely.

        1. Is Montana part of the theme, or just where you will be having the meal?

          I did a heritage bird for Thanksgiving one year, and I really liked it. To make it feel like a Montana meal, you could quarter it and cook it on the grill, along with grilled corn on the cob. I have a nice wok-like basket where I do veggies on the grill, so I would dice some sweet potatoes and butternut squash and toss in lots of shallots for the grill as well.

          11 Replies
          1. re: ocshooter

            Why would grilling it be making it feel "like a Montana meal?"

            1. re: wyogal

              Out on the range, there are not a whole lot of other options for cooking a bird of this size.

              1. re: ocshooter

                They have ovens in Montana.

                1. re: wyogal

                  I am aware, but when I think of places like Montana, Wyoming, Colorado... I think of being outdoors on the range. So sides in a Dutch Oven would work, as do skillet sides and roasts over the fire, but roasting a bird in the oven is not what leaps to mind.

                  1. re: ocshooter

                    Nobody's cooking outside these days... :( The West is on fire. But, we have gotten some rain in the last 24 hours, so that helps.

              2. re: wyogal

                Its freaking cold in Montana at Thanksgiving - nobody would be grilling.

                1. re: drewpbalzac

                  We will be! :)

                  1. re: loveroffood

                    good luck dkeeping your fire hot enough to cook your game. Montanans learned to cook indoors during the winter

                    1. re: drewpbalzac

                      You do realize that they are not going to be in Montana, just using it for inspiration?

                      That said, it does look like the OP is from New York, so cold, wet and snow are all possibilities. I like in Sunny So Cal (with a very mild summer so far) so I grill every weekend these days in the summer and have been known to grill any time of year. Heck, I am just as likely to be strolling about in a light coat as I am to be bundled up that time of year.

                      1. re: ocshooter

                        Actually, we'll be all traveling to Montana from various parts of the US to meet up for our annual Thanksgiving. No connections to Montana except it seemed to be a good place to have a Wild Game Thanksgiving. :)

                        (personally, I tried to sell Sonoma as the spot given the weather - but I couldn't convince them of a connection to wild game)

                        1. re: loveroffood

                          In that case, you might not want to plan on an outdoor grill after all. I don't know if I would want to shovel out the grill...

            2. A heritage bird, something with huckleberries (or Flathead cherries), something made with Wheat Montana Flour (my favorite brand, quite good), dressing made with some crumbled browned venison sausage, maybe a smoked trout appetizer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                And morrells . . . . the fresh season will be long over by then - but I would want to work some morrells into my gravy or stuffing.

                1. re: drewpbalzac

                  Morrells...yummm....

              2. Thanks for the ideas! Sounds like rich and include the grill. We will see how this year's menu stacks up to prior years - Mexican, Fried Everything, Indian, Traditional, and Chinese.

                1. My favorite wild game preparation of the last couple years is slow cooked elk shortribs. For sides- a Cran- Huckleberry relish would go well with the theme, or even just canned huckleberries in the last 10 minutes of your cranberry sauce cooking. Agree with the sage for the stuffing. Maybe a Yorkshire pudding with the drippings of whatever you are roasting.

                  1. Dressing made with huckleberries and innards: heart, liver, gizzards

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 1POINT21GW

                      Oysters should fine a place on your menu. You can grill 'em, you can bbq 'em or just shuck and serve 'em raw. Lobsters should also find a place on your table.