Right at the beginning of the 2022 NFL season we talked a bit about “Homegating” for those fans outside of Jacksonville and what we loved to do for those who couldn’t make it out to tailgate prior to games at TIAA Bank Field. But there’s often an aspect of Homegating that’s forgotten about and that’s the one when you get together with the whole family: Thanksgiving.
If you think about it, Thanksgiving is like the OG tailgate. What are you generally doing for Thanksgiving when you get together around with your family? You’re hanging out, cooking lots of food and often drinking waiting for the festivities to start.
Sounds a lot like tailgating, just at home. So, homegating.
I don’t come from a big family, nor does my wife. My parents are both back in Iowa since my dad retired, and my younger brother and his wife and children live on a farm up in the Carolinas, so in Jacksonville for the holidays it’s usually spent with my wife’s family and we have a nice, cozy get together. We don’t really do a lot of special stuff for Thanksgiving, but one thing I realized we started doing without thinking about it was trying to find reasons to use a different protein than turkey on Thanksgiving. We usually always have turkey, but recently the past few years we have unconsciously started to move off the traditional protein for the holiday.
A few years ago I did a prime rib that was a big hit, and the turkey was left languishing on the table, getting cold… reserved for leftover cold turkey sandwiches the next day. It was a big hit and given within our small family get together there is only three meat eaters, it left a lot of great leftovers for the next week.
After that it became almost like a little game. “What can I do instead of boring turkey?” I’d ask myself leading up to Thanksgiving. One year I did a smoked sliced pork butt, which was a big-time hit. I almost went for some ribs one Thanksgiving, but I felt like that was a little too ambitious and I haven’t done it yet. We even did the fried turkey one season and it was just kind of whatever. I mean, it’s turkey. There’s only so much you can do with it.
This year I think I’m going to do some picanha, which has been my go-to the past few months. The grocery store near me has suddenly starting carrying full sirloin caps (aka picanha) for a crazy cheap price, so I just keep buying it every other week, slice it up into steaks and I’m eating good. I did an experiment with a picanha this past weekend, where I smoked it at about 350 degrees for a little over an hour and then I sliced it up and hard seared it. Kind of like reverse searing a steak, but just smoking it first instead of heating the oven. Let me tell you… whew. It was perfect. I think I found what I’m going to do for Thanksgiving this year and the best thing is I can take the entire sirloin cap and sit outside with a nice drink and my smoker and do some homegating.
While we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving, I have to give what seems to be some controversial hot takes about sides and desserts. For one, the best side for Thanksgiving is green bean casserole. I don’t care what anyone says; you mix some green beans, cream of mushroom and fried onions… there’s just something about that combination that marries so well together. On the dessert side, I will die on this hill until the end of time, but sweet potato pie is superior to pumpkin pie.
What are some of the quirky traditions or hot takes you’ve got for Thanksgiving?