Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving – The New York Times

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Thanksgiving might seem like it’s defined by turkey, but a big, glossy Norman Rockwell-style bird isn’t required for a festive holiday. And if you don’t like turkey, there’s no reason you should feel like you have to make one. Here are 16 ideas for a turkey-free table.

Say you’re having a small get-together, but you still want to serve a gorgeous, burnished bird. Let us introduce you to this sweet and salty roast chicken from Colu Henry. Basting the chicken with a rosemary-infused maple butter throughout cooking helps caramelize the outside and creates pan juices that are delicious served over — you guessed it — mashed potatoes. Brush up your poultry skills with our guide on how to roast chicken.

Melissa Clark’s classic beef Wellington is something to truly be thankful for. A tender beef fillet is wrapped in mushrooms and shallots, then enrobed in a golden layer of puff pastry. The key to success is an instant-read thermometer. Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 115 degrees for a lovely pink rare center, 25 to 35 minutes, and not a minute more.

Recipe: Beef Wellington

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This meatless Thankgiving centerpiece from Samantha Seneviratne has the mashed potatoes baked right in! French green lentils (Puy lentils) are the cornerstone of this hearty pie, and while they can be a little harder to find than traditional brown, they hold up better to long cook times and a creamy potato topping.

Recipe: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

In this easy five-ingredient recipe from Genevieve Ko, a combination of maple syrup, mustard and mayonnaise is slathered onto a simple piece of salmon, which is then baked low and slow at 325 degrees for a spectacular main dish.

Many Italian-American families serve lasagna in addition to their roast turkey, but this lasagna from Regina Schrambling — outrageously rich with layers of pasta, homemade sauce, three cheeses, Italian sausage and meatballs — deserves the spotlight.

Recipe: Lasagna

Don’t let the name intimidate you. It’s just a fancy way of describing the classic French dish of scallops in a lovely cream sauce, nestled under a layer of crunchy bread crumbs and Gruyère cheese. Sam Sifton adapted this easier version from Ina, so you know it has to be good, but the biggest selling point might be that you can make it the night before, then warm it through when you’re ready to eat.

Recipe: Ina Garten’s Make-Ahead Coquilles St. Jacques

Sam Sifton once called Alexa Weibel’s mushroom Wellington “beautiful and fancy, Idris Elba in black tie, the perfect Thanksgiving guest.” It is no easy feat — there is no shortcut to be taken here, beyond preparing the separate components a day in advance — but set it in front of guests and it can compete with any turkey on any table, unifying vegans, vegetarians and omnivores.

Recipe: Vegetarian Mushroom Wellington

A beloved dish typically served at special occasions in Puerto Rico (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas), pernil is pork shoulder that’s been marinated in garlic, citrus and herbs, then slow-roasted on high heat to achieve a crisp chicharrón, or skin. This version was developed by Von Diaz, who credits the chef Maricel Presilla for teaching her how to achieve crisp skin and tender, fall-apart meat.

Recipe: Pernil

This root-vegetable-and-mushroom potpie from Alexa Weibel offers lots of options: Bake it in a large cast-iron skillet or cook it in individual ramekins. If you’re serving both vegetarians and meat eaters, divide the filling between two pie plates, and add rotisserie chicken, bacon, lardons or even duck confit to one before covering each with a blanket of puff pastry.

Recipe: Mushroom Potpie

This is a cozy, spice-laden dish made of yogurt-marinated chicken bathed in a golden sauce of butter, onions, ginger, tomatoes, garam masala, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. Sam Sifton adapted this version from Amandeep Sharma, a young kitchen hand at the restaurant Attica, in Melbourne, Australia, who used to make it for staff meal. It’s better than any roast turkey could ever dream of being.

Recipe: Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Alexa Weibel is a wizard when it comes to making meatless variations of dishes that taste just as delicious — if not more — than their meat-laden counterparts. Take, for instance, this vegetarian lasagna, which begins with a robust vegan Bolognese made with seared mushrooms, toasted walnuts, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, soy sauce and Marmite. (Skip the Marmite if you can’t find it.) Once you’ve got the sauce made, the rest is just assembly.

Roasting chicken is a smart option for a small Thanksgiving, but if you want something a bit more interesting, try this recipe from Yasmin Khan. Mussakhan is a beloved Palestinian dish that is brightened with lemon and sumac, but also rich with warming spices like cumin, allspice and cinnamon. It will feel right at home on your Thanksgiving table.

Recipe: Mussakhan (Roast Chicken With Sumac and Red Onions)

J. Kenji López-Alt takes an affordable piece of beef (any inexpensive, lean meat like top round or tri-tip will do), seasons it generously with salt and pepper and refrigerates it for one to two days, then gives it the reverse-sear treatment: roasting then searing until browned. You’ll end up with moist, succulent meat, but you can whisk together a pan sauce or gravy if you’d like to give it the traditional turkey treatment.

Recipe: Slow-Roasted Beef

Duck is richer, and perhaps even more regal than a Thanksgiving turkey, and this pan-roasted version from David Tanis is easily scalable — one breast easily serves two if your celebration is cozy This dish is served with a rich pan sauce using fresh and dried mushrooms, red wine and herbs. It’s fancy and festive.

Recipe: Pan-Roasted Duck With Wild Mushrooms

Mrouzia is a Moroccan tagine often enjoyed on holidays or special occasions. Nargisse Benkabou’s recipe combines lamb shanks with a syrupy sauce of honey and raisins, seasoned with saffron and ras el hanout. It’s a sweet, subtly spiced centerpiece that can be prepared a day in advance.

Recipe: Mrouzia Lamb Shanks

This stunning tart from the pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz has it all: a buttery, homemade pâte brisée base topped with creamy potatoes, which melt into a layer of ricotta and provolone, all crowned with a pile of acidic, just-dressed fresh radicchio. This recipe makes two crusts — so you can use the second to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers.

Recipe: Potato-and-Radicchio Tart

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