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Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas for Meats, Game Birds and Russian Doll Roast

Updated on November 18, 2019
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty collects recipes and gadgets from the past and is interested in early American history, the Civil War, and the 19th century.


The Meats and Fruits of Thanksgiving

North America is like a huge fertile field, producing hundreds of fruits, vegetables, and domestic and game animals in several months of harvests. This permits us numerable combinations for cooking.

While many North Americans have enjoyed ham steak with raisin sauce or a roast pig and apples, fewer have experienced the flavorful artistry of other meats and fowl when combined with various fruits.

North America is also home to a diverse mix of cooking cultures, from French Haute Cuisine to New Orleans Cajun, from Flori-Mex to Inuit Bush Cooking, and many more in between. Con-carne, vegetarian, lacto-ovo, and vegan styles all permeate our kitchens. We have many choices in a flavor rainbow.

A rump roast can be prepared from beef or any one of several different domestic and game meat sources.

High Bush Moose, Low Bush Moose

In the popular literature of Alaska and in certain kitchens, chefs and cooks refer to various game meats with certain nicknames.

For example, High Bush Moose is the actual moose, hunted in season (like caribou) to supply families with meat all winter in Alaska and proximal parts of Canada. This is big game and as such, this type of meat appears in larger quantities in the First Nations Food Pyramid than in other nutritional schemes prepared by the Canadian national government's health agency. These First Nations are hunters and fishers of long standing.

At the other end of game meats, Low Bush Moose is actually the "Snowshoe Rabbit", "Polar Rabbit", or "Arctic Hare." This is a large rabbit-like creature trapped in quantity to provide food for the winter to families without access to larger game. In northern cuisine circles, one often hears people talking of becoming sick of the taste of rabbit in the winter.

Interestingly, the Alaskan Bush is not in the far interior or northern extremes of the state, like ANWR in the northwest.

Major cities of the Alaskan Bush trail northward up the west coast and are largely not set on roadways (Please see the map below).

This area is difficult to travel except by Ice Road Truckers, and supplies are sometimes obstructed by blizzards. Thus, the residents often hunt and fish for their own food.

Many communities of Inuit People and related groups live in the bush and upwards into Canada, although erosion and rising sea levels are forcing some to move farther inland. Nevertheless, the land and sea provide a large portion of their food and their economy.

Low bush moose (Arctic Hare)
Low bush moose (Arctic Hare) | Source

Alaskan Inspired Cooking

Eastern coastal communities along a trail of indigenous Alaskan that hunt and fish for a large their food continue to enjoy game meats with the recipes in this article.

Moose Rump Roast With Fruits

One does not find many cattle or pigs in Alaska, but moose (or caribou) rump roast is a grand dish in this area, prepared with fruits in the recipe below.

The recipe reminds me of two things:

  1. Opening credits for TV's Northern Exposure that featured a moose from the Columbus, Ohio Zoo and
  2. A wonderful children's book called If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Numeroff and Bond.

If you have hunted or been gifted with meat from a moose, caribou, or deer - even a beef or pork roast - then try the following recipe. Chicken and turkey do not seem to me to be tasty in this dish, but duck and goose work well.

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 2 hours 40 min
Ready in: 3 hours
Yields: Several servings, enough for a large family.


  • One 4-pound Roast of game or domestic meat
  • 4 Tbsp Butter and 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Yellow Onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1.5 Cups Dry White Wine or wine vinegar
  • 2 Cups Beef Stock
  • 1 Small Can Tomato Paste
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Large Cooking Apples and 3 Large Pears, all peeled, cored and cut into thick rings
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Apricots, soaked in a cup of hot water a few minutes to plump
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Raisins


  1. Over medium heat, melt butter into olive oil in a heavy, deep cast iron skillet or Dutch Oven and brown the roast on all sides.
  2. Remove roast to a holding plate and brown the onions. Add the wine or vinegar, tomato paste, seasonings, stock and bay leaves.
  3. Add the roast back to the skillet or Dutch Oven, cover, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 60 minutes.
  4. Remove from stove top, turn off burner, and transfer Dutch Oven or cast iron skillet into the oven at 350° for 90 minutes or until meat is tender. Keep an eye on the roast and add some water if the pan begins to dry.
  5. Remove cooking vessel from oven and return to stove top over medium-low heat.
  6. Add the fruits carefully and cook for 10 minutes uncovered until apples and pears are soft.
  7. Remove finished dish to a serving platter and care in the kitchen or at the table.
  8. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.
Traditional Russian doll set, also called the Matryoshka dolls. The culinary version is one of birds-inside-of-birds.
Traditional Russian doll set, also called the Matryoshka dolls. The culinary version is one of birds-inside-of-birds. | Source

Game Birds for the Table and a Russian Dolls Roast

A Haute Cuisine dish that appears in English and French cookery books of the 1700s and in an old WiIlkie Collins novel is echoed in the Chef's Mystery Series by Michael Bond, the author of the beloved Paddington Bear children's books.

Some children's' authors dabbled very well in mystery, including Mr. Bond (still writing in his 80s) and Winnie the Pooh's creator, A.A. Milne ( in his The Tale of the Red House). Milne wrote his only mystery for his father, and it's a good one. Bond wrote his mysteries for adults that enjoy humor and romance as well as crime scenes.

This dish of game birds is called by a few names: "Impossible" is one of them and "fanciful" is another. One version of the original original recipe calls for as many as 20 game birds of increasing proportions stuffed one into the next, beginning with a small fowl just able to be fit with a stuffed olive in its gut.

A Great Bustard in a German drawing from 1905. Males weight up to 35 pounds +/-.
A Great Bustard in a German drawing from 1905. Males weight up to 35 pounds +/-. | Source

The largest bird in the dish of birds-inside-birds was a Great Bustard, rather like a small ostrich, found formerly in England and now a threatened species in other parts of Europe. In fact, several of the birds in the original dish are now endangered or threatened, so fewer birds are used today.

This "Turducken x 6" is known also by the nickname Russian Dolls Roast and requires up to 18 hours cooking time of roasting and stewing. De-boning all the birds first is often suggested. A simpler dish with fewer birds is tasty and elegant, served at Thanksgiving and Christmas by those aware of it.

Roast a L'Imperatrice

Roast a L'Imperatrice (Roast Fit For An Empress) is the name given to the multi-bird dish described by M. Aristide Pamplemousse in Michael Bond's humorous murder mystery Monsieur Pamplemousse Rests His Case.

A former member of the Parisian Surete forced into early retirement by 15 chorus girls, Aristide is now an inspector for a travel guide and specializes in French cuisine. In this book, he is confronted with the dish nicknamed also Trojan Roast Pig and dared to eat the olive, which is poisoned. All this occurs at a banquet of American mystery writers in Vichy and many diners dressed as Alexandre Dumas characters. Aristide is a hilarious D'Artagnion. You must read the book and enjoy his misadventures.

This recipe is adapted from Dictionary of Cuisine by Alexandre Dumas; 1873.


  • One large pitted green olive
  • One anchovy
  • One lark - May be illegal to consume in some countries. If so, replace with some tasty slices of Prosciutto. Or move ahead and use a duck between the partridge and pheasant.
  • One quail
  • One partridge
  • One pheasant
  • One turkey
  • Oysters - possible (see Instructions)
  • 4 Cups chicken stock


  1. Stuff the anchovy into the olive.
  2. Wash and debone all the birds (except the lark; you eat those bones) and season with a little salt and pepper. Add additional seasonings of your choice, depending on the bird and include some oysters around one of the larger birds as well, if you wish.
  3. Stuff in this order: olive, lark, quail, partridge, pheasant, turkey.
  4. Place final assemblage into a dutch oven, add stock, cover, and roast in a slow oven, basting frequently, until meat thermometer inserted into center reads 165ο F.
  5. Serve.

NOTE: The joke in the literature is that the gourmand throws away the cooked fowl and eats only the olive.

Original Ingredients

These are the original ingredients, from smallest to largest, like many Russian Dolls placed one into another:

  • One large Olive stuffed with Capers and a spice Clove or with a Garlic Clove or with an Anchovy
  • A bec-figue (figpicker bird)
  • An ortolan (a species of lark)
  • A common lark (some modern recipes suggest a canary)
  • Wrap the lark in vine-leaves (likely grape leaves)
  • A thrush
  • A fat quail
  • Wrap the quail in bacon
  • A plover
  • A lapwing
  • A partridge
  • A woodcock
  • A barded teal (some sources translate as "tame duck")
  • A guinea-fowl
  • Garnish the guinea-fowl with bacon
  • A large duck
  • A fat chicken
  • A large pheasant
  • A goose
  • A large turkey
  • A giant Great Bustard. However, in ancient Rome, all the rest was stuffed into a pig. Hence the name "Trojan Pig." The dish was once outlawed for extravagance in the Roman Empire.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      SS - Haha! I just had a vision of turkeys wearing boots on the farm.

      Anywho, some game meat is better if it is soaked in salt water overnight to reduce the stronger "gamey" flavor - sometimes deer, sometimes rabbit.

      Hello, hello - I had fun writing this one, so many connections and all.

      Cardisa - I love pumpkin pie, too!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      10 years ago from San Francisco

      Whoah... arctic hare... this is intense stuff! I've never eaten any sort of game meat before, but it sounds amazing! What a cool Hub! It makes the traditional farm-grown turkey sound positively pedestrian.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      This certainly waa a very special hub to read. Thank you.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      10 years ago from Jamaica

      I keep saying we need a yummy button but no one listening to me. Traditionally Jamaicans don't celebrate Thanks Giving or Halloween but in recent years with many American and UK immigrants, returning resident who have resided in these countries a while we have been acknowledging these "events". I say events because they are still not recognized as holidays in Jamaica. I like Thanks Giving because it gives me the excuse of making pumpkin pie and eating

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I think one would be good with a quail, a pheasant, a duck, a turkey and an emu. Emu tastes a lot like pork to me, and a bit like a cross between pork and turkey. Then some oysters and apricots around some of the birds would be good.

      Now I'm hungry and must go eat something.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hmmm - that Russian Doll recipe sounds... well, I don't know. I thought that Tur-Ducken was a (pardon the pun) foul idea, but I can see why the dish you describe was outlawed for extravagance many years ago. I can always count on you for writing interesting, informative articles!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Personally, i use the vinegar to offset some of the sweetness of the apricots, especially if I add the raisins. Thanks for commenting, Dave!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      10 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      I love moose meat and deer meat,especially a good roast or steak. Thanks for sharing this with me. I'm surprised you used a white wine instead of a hearty red wine though.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      K9keystrokes - I feel lucky or charmed to be always reading matieral that rings a bell with something else in my interests. And it's fun. I am glad you enjoyed this one!

      Flora - Celebrating on the Sunday before or after the holiday sounds like a neat thing to do. For a few years, friends and I celebrated between Christmas and New Years instead of on those days and we found it a lot more fun.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      10 years ago

      I must admit that I've never had any of these other dishes and some of them I've never even heard of the recipes. My family tends to eat eat turkey, chicken or ham on Thanksgiving. We also tend to celebrate on the Sunday-just a few days way-rather than on actually Thanksgiving day so that the holiday is relaxing for everyone.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      10 years ago from Northern, California

      Wow Patty! You always offer such wonderful stuff in your topics. This hub is no different. I had not heard of the Great Bustard (bird) so I found this information fascinating. I also enjoyed the Moose portion of the article, those kid books look very fun! Another top-notch hub. Voted accordingly.




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