Sadler's Smokehouse this week donated 13,000 pounds of pit-smoked brisket, ribs, pork and chicken to the North Texas Food Bank, a gift that poses a holiday cooking quandary for recipients: Just how do you build a Thanksgiving celebration around a nontraditional protein?
According to Katherine Lindholm, the food bank's nutritional education manager, there's an array of preparation strategies clients can use to shift the focus away from what's missing.
"They can add cinnamon or nutmeg to the barbecue sauce," Lindholm suggests. "Or they can do things like add sage to the meat."
Lindholm's also counseled clients to serve ribs atop a bed of stuffing to enhance the meal's Thanksgiving feel.
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"We encourage them to add some of those flavorings and really concentrate on the sides," says Lindholm, a registered dietitian whose job requires her to preach the vegetable gospel year-round. "Even if your meat isn't traditional, you can always have potatoes. Green bean casserole will be good with any protein."
Lindholm points out prepared barbecue is actually a better choice than a frozen turkey for some clients, who "don't have an oven, or maybe their electricity is shut off."
But many families who rely on assistance will make great sacrifices to secure a Thanksgiving turkey, even if it means saving up food stamps and planning a week's worth of menus around leftovers.
"We wish we could give a turkey to every person out there, but the need is so great," Lindholm says.