Caribbean people are passionate about their meat derived protein. Everyone has stories of themselves or someone they know eating all their food and saving the meat for last while growing up. On Sundays in Jamaica, it is the norm for many households to cook more than one meat dish.
Many Caribbean families have adopted the American Thanksgiving holiday, albeit, with their own twists and modifications. The first and only time I beheld curry turkey was one Thanksgiving at a cousin’s house when her husband informed me that he would be making a dish that was sure to mash up the place. He took the turkey to the meat market, they cut it up for him, he brought it back home, seasoned it, cooked it…and his dish got rave reviews.
Below are the top 5 submitted meat dishes served at Caribbean families’ Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey: Every household has their own methods of prepping and cooking their turkey, however, there is one common thread. The turkey must be well seasoned and well cooked, inside and out. There is zero tolerance for under-seasoned, undercooked, pale turkey. Word to the wise, if the turkey is cut and one drop of reddish liquid oozes out, your cooking career and reputation are irreparably sullied. For the rest of your life (and maybe even at your nine-night), the story of how you served people “raw turkey” will be told, over and over and over again.
Chicken: Chicken? Yes chicken. There can never be too many poultry dishes at any gathering that involves people of Caribbean descent. Plus, some people “no like how turkey taste, it too dry”. On thanksgiving day, the chicken options run the gamut from jerked, fried, curry, brown stewed, baked, to whatever experiment the person cooking the chicken decides to conduct on that day. P.S. 😉 The same rules that apply to the prep and cooking of the turkey also applies here.
Oxtail: There are oxtail purists. They must absolutely have their oxtail, or else. Thanksgiving is no exception. The only difference to them between thanksgiving and a normal oxtail day is the quantity and the competition.
Curry Goat: The goat, the goat, the goat. If the pungent aroma of curried goat is missing from your thanksgiving table, there is discontent in your house. Whether they tell you or not, somebody a screw.
There was a tie for #5 between Fish and Jerk Pork
Fish: Fish is another favourite dish. There is an increasing number of people who are opting to go meatless and this no doubt factors into the booming popularity of fish. If there will be vegans at your thanksgiving table, a good fish option is soyfish, a favourite of mine when cooked by my friend Wes.
Jerked Pork: The pork contingent is very dedicated. Call it what you will, blaze as many fires as you’d like, the only fire they’re concerned about is the one that brings them closer to savouring the goodness of their favourite white meat.