But more often than not, the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner is…underwhelming.
Read: Pretty but dry AF.
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
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
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
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
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.
11. Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange Butter Glaze
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
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.