A Wild Twist on Thanksgiving: Game Meats Take Center Stage

Embracing Exotic Delights How Alligator and Venison are Revamping Holiday Feasts amidst Soaring Grocery Prices

Rising grocery prices lead to people opting for alligator and venison for holiday meals.

alligator and smoked venison An alligator catch; A rack of smoked venison hind quarters. Courtesy of Red Antler Processing

Tired of the same old turkey every Thanksgiving? Well, for those fashion-forward foodies with a taste for adventure, this year’s holiday feast promises to be truly wild. Move over, turkey; it’s time to make way for the stars of the show: smoked alligator, succulent venison backstrap, and the always-elusive wild ham.

Christopher Shane Smith, the mastermind behind Red Antler Processing in Yazoo City, Mississippi, dubs these unique alternatives the “celebrities” of Thanksgiving feasts. According to Smith, it’s a Southeast family tradition to indulge in these delicacies during holiday gatherings. Think of it as a culinary catwalk, where flavor takes center stage.

alligator sausage Alligator sausage. Courtesy of Red Antler Processing

For Smith, hunting is not just a hobby; it’s a way of life. And when it comes to this time of year, families are out in droves, hunting together, and bonding over the harvest. While many customers bring in their own freshly caught game for processing, Smith’s company also receives donations from generous hunters who have more meat than they can handle. And what does Smith do with this surplus? He donates it to local homeless shelters, helping to feed countless individuals in need. Talk about fashion with a philanthropic twist!

But why the sudden surge in popularity for game meats this year? Smith believes that skyrocketing grocery prices might be the driving force behind this shift in Thanksgiving fashion. Let’s be honest, who needs a turkey that costs an arm and a leg, when you can have a smoked venison hind quarter that will leave you feeling like royalty? Economy and extravagance all wrapped into one delicious package!

stuffed venison backstrap wrapped in bacon Stuffed venison backstrap wrapped in bacon. Courtesy of Red Antler Processing

Smith recounts a heartwarming story of a family who recently traded in their traditional turkey for a smoked venison extravaganza. Picture this: tender venison hind quarters, enveloped in a smoky embrace, making everyone’s mouths water. It’s a red meat lover’s dream come true. And for another adventurous soul, a man boldly ventured from Tennessee to Mississippi just to get his hands on a whole smoked alligator. Now, that’s dedication! As Smith describes it, the flavor of alligator can only be compared to a whimsical blend of chicken and fish. A true fusion feast!

And lest you think this is a peculiar Southern trend, exotic meats are making a splash at butcher shops even in the concrete jungle of New York City. The Wall Street Journal reported that one Queens-based shop saw a whopping 25% of their Thanksgiving orders coming in for animals as diverse as kangaroo, ostrich, and even rattlesnake. Fashionable foodies truly know no bounds!

One cannot overlook the health and ethical aspects of wild game meat. Smith, like many in his community, champions the fact that it’s free from hormones and chemicals commonly found in commercial meat. The gratitude for and connection to nature also play a significant role, as knowing the story behind the animal on your plate makes the dining experience all the more meaningful. It’s a delicate balance between appreciation and reverence.

So, this Thanksgiving, why not shake things up? Ditch the predictable turkey and embrace the wild side of fashion with game meats that will have your taste buds strutting down the runway. From smoked alligator to mouthwatering venison, it’s time to make a bold statement on your plate. Who knows, you might just start a new holiday trend that will have everyone saying, “Move over, turkey, there’s a new style icon in town!”

What do you think of this wild twist on Thanksgiving traditions? Are you tempted to try game meats this year? Share your thoughts and experiences below!