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16 Festive Main Dishes That Are So Much Better Than Turkey

It's time we all admit that turkey's kinda lame.

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So, why not shake things up this year and cook...ANYTHING ELSE!? (Or, cook a small turkey because, tradition, and then cook another awesome showstopper to go with it.)

Here are some big, impressive, delicious pieces of meat you should definitely make for Thanksgiving, instead of turkey:

1. Roast Duck with Plums

Ingalls Photography / saveur.com

Whole ducks are available at some supermarkets, and pretty much any butcher can order one for you if you call at least a week in advance. Duck meat is a little gamey without being funky, and the fatty skin keeps the meat from drying out. Also, unlike chicken and turkey, you don't have to cook a duck well-done (although this particular recipe does specify to cook to 165°F). Recipe here.

3. Roasted Capon with Sage Stuffing

saveur.com

A capon is, by definition, a young rooster that has been castrated to improve the quality of its meat. They're a little smaller than the average turkey — 8 to 11 pounds, as opposed to turkeys, which are usually anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds — but still plenty if you're having 12 people or fewer for dinner. This recipe is heavy on the sage, because, 'tis the season. Recipe here.

5. Roasted Pork Belly with Crushed Butternut Squash and Apple and Walnut Salsa

ottolenghi.co.uk

Basically an enormous, autumnally-dressed piece of bacon that you're allowed to eat as a main. From Ottolenghi himself. The recipe serves 6 to 8 but can easily be scaled up if you buy a bigger piece of pork belly. Recipe here.

6. Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce

recipetineats.com

Lamb shanks literally fall off the bone when you cook 'em right. And, all that sauce is just begging to be sopped up into a pile of mashed potatoes. This recipe is for four shanks, so you'd probably have to double or triple it. Recipe here.

7. Pork Loin with Persimmons and Mustard Greens

William Brinson / marthastewart.com

The truly great part about the "other white meat" is that it cooks so much faster. Which means more oven space for sides. Recipe here.

8. Cornish Hens with Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

delish.com

The truly magical part about this on is that EVERYONE GETS THEIR OWN HEN. Like, "Hi! Welcome to my Thanksgiving table. Here's a hen!" So freaking cool, you guys. Recipe here.

9. Crown Roast of Pork with Chestnut-Rye Stuffing

Ryan Liebe / marthastewart.com

Alright, a crown roast is a little dated and very, well...Martha. But, it's maybe the most elaborately impressive centerpiece you can have on a holiday table. (Like I said, very Martha.) Recipe here.

10. Thanksgiving Roast Duck

juliasalbum.com

Scoring the duck skin (making small slices in the skin but not cutting all the way through) helps the fat render out (basically, melt). This makes the skin crispy instead of soggy. Recipe here.

11. Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange Butter Glaze

marthastewart.com

You're bound to ruffle some feathers if you serve a whole fish for Thanksgiving. But, a) a whole salmon looks awesome and serves twelve, and b) fish don't have feathers, silly! So it's basically a moot point. Recipe here.

13. Soy-Braised Duck with Spices

thewoksoflife.com

Asian-inspired aromatics like star anise and cloves make this an untraditional choice that maybe won't pair so well with mashed potatoes and stuffing. But, there are plenty of sweet potato and Brussels sprout recipes that would go great with this braised duck. Recipe here.

15. Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork

bakedbyrachel.com

The recipe calls for shredding the meat into pulled pork after cooking, but a really sharp knife can cut it into impressive (if slightly messy) slices. Recipe here.

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