When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner's main course, Edmonton has plenty of options
By Cory Schachtel | October 5, 2022
The story of Thanksgiving may be the most well known of any major North American holidays, in part because it’s so recent that we actually know some of what happened at the “first” one (there were no belt-buckle hats). Of course, Indigenous people celebrated bountiful harvests (and individual hunts) long before Europeans did the same on land that was new to them. But the point is, everyone, everywhere, across all time, loves celebrating with loved ones and food. And today that food is usually turkey.
But what if you don’t like turkey? Or at least don’t like cooking one? We talked to some local food producers about different options to serve instead of the meatiest and, in our opinion, ugliest bird.
Having recently celebrated 100 years of giving Edmontonians the meat sweats, ACME Meat Market has plenty of options for those who don’t want turkey but still want to serve a meaty centrepiece.
Butcher and Owner Corey Meyer says even people who like turkey usually choose to serve it on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not both. “So ham is always in the back pocket. Prime rib is another good one, and so is a pork loin roast, especially if you French them and expose the bones.
“But one that I’ve done in my house before — sort of a very European thing — is duck, or goose. They cook very much the same as any sort of poultry, but the biggest difference between them and a turkey is that they’re all dark meat, because they fly. So even the breasts are dark meat. And they’re both quite greasy. So a good trick I like is that I’ll score (slice the skin of) the breast, and then roast it on the top rack in the oven. Then on a rack underneath it, that’s where you put your potatoes and vegetables in a pan and let the drippings go on to the potatoes and vegetables. There’s something about duck fat — the flavour is incredible — and so when you get that on your vegetables, it’s second to none.”
Like many restaurants, at the beginning of the pandemic, Good Stock Foods had to make a business pivot. Today, Founder and Chef Michelle Robinson says “we’re kind of like an M&M Meats, but for vegan and vegetarian people.”
The store has all kinds of ready-made meals, including pizzas, soups, curries and pasta, that are great for people who want to eat healthy but don’t have time to cook. But for a Thanksgiving turkey replacement, Robinson suggests “our walnut, cranberry, chickpea meatloaf. It has a cashew, creamy cranberry filling in the middle, and the actual loaf is made of walnuts and chickpeas and shredded zucchini and carrots. It’s in a loaf pan and you just pop it out and slice it up just like a turkey.
“Our butternut squash soup, with some cashew sour cream, is a nice appetizer for everyone. And for dessert, we have our pumpkin pie squares with a nice deep caramel on top. They’re really decadent. I look forward to this time every year so I can buy some myself.”
Effing Seafood’s Owner Rob Tryon concedes that Thanksgiving is “traditionally a Turkey weekend, but I find it’s a big family weekend first. So we do see a lot of appie-style seafoods going out for starters. Or sometimes, families gather for the whole weekend, so they’ll have Turkey one night and seafood on the other, because it’s a little bit lighter.”
If you still want something big and meaty as the centrepiece, Tryon says you can’t go wrong with a whole salmon, B.C. lingcod or even some halibut steaks (the weather will certainly permit grilling this weekend). But if you’re gonna go seafood, you might as well go all the way.
“My go-to this weekend is going to be a lobster boil — support Canadian lobster, ya know? Basically, you take your baby potatoes, put them in the pot, cover them, and bring that up to a boil. Then get some local sausages, like a chorizo. Put one in for each person, and at the same time, put the lobster in. Then on top put the mussels, and corn, and you can add things like prawns or scallops, and some Effing lobster boil spice in it. And do it backyard-picnic style, with a plastic tablecloth, and just pour it out on the table or the kitchen counter and feast away.”
Like this content? Get more delivered right to your inbox with Ed. Eats
A list of what’s delicious, delectable and delightful.