Does the idea of tackling a giant holiday dinner centering around a turkey freak your freak? Well, keep your apron off and don’t fret. There are plenty of alternatives to make your Thanksgiving meal equally festive without all the fuss of a big bird. You’re welcome.
Swiss Chalet, OK!
Whether you go to one of their many locations or order in a couple of Family Paks, no one can resist the rotisserie grain-fed Canadian Grade-A chicken, irresistible fries and the Chalet sauce to dip it all in. Throw in an ice-cream scoop of stuffing, a heaping spoonful of cranberry sauce and some Lindt chocolates for dessert and you can create your own Pre-Festive Special, weeks before it hits restaurants.
Order Thanksgiving to go
Nowadays, you can pretend you went to all the trouble of a perfect holiday meal by ordering from any participating grocery store or market. Saves on prep time and the clean-up that goes along with it. Hours saved in the kitchen? Yes, please.
Roast a whole head of cauliflower
All you need is some freshly grated Parmesan, mayo, a bit of Dijon mustard and some cracked black pepper to elevate cauliflower from meh to mmmm. First steam the cauliflower; once that’s done, slather the mixed four ingredients all over it, bake for about 20 minutes, then dig in to this hearty, surprisingly meaty dish. Or, try any of these other recipes.
Stuff a breast instead
Ask your butcher or the meat department of your grocery store for a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (about 2 ½ lbs.), or two, depending on the amount of guests. Butterfly it, stuff it (cooled stuffing with dried cranberries for sweetness, pecans for texture), roll it, sear it, then pop it in the oven until the internal temp is at 170F. Rest it, slice it, plate it, eat it. Beauty.
Roast a chicken
If you’re set on a bird, why not try one that clucks instead of gobbles? Chicken is much more manageable and takes less time. And, hey, people don’t say things “tastes like chicken” for nothing.
Bake a ham
Most of them are pre-cooked nowadays so most of the work is done. Find one that comes with its own glaze (throw in orange or pineapple juice, for sweetness and to keep it moist, and cloves for a little spice and a touch of savoury flavour) and you’ve got an impressive meal without all the crazy amount of work.
Make a centrepiece so majestic no one notices the turkey is missing
OK, this one’s a bit of a stretch but it could work depending on how gullible your guests are. Seriously, though, the chef at Los Angeles brasserie and marketplace Little Next Door bakes this bad boy up and it looks so tasty — but we understand if you don’t want to dig into something so pretty.
Here’s how to make it:
Make a meal using only sides
Who needs meat? Everyone knows the side dishes are the best part! Potatoes (sweet, scalloped, mashed, smashed), stuffing (homemade is delish but the box kind will work in a pinch), veggies (beans, corn, brussels sprouts with bacon, a colourful blend of diced carrots and squash), cornbread and cranberry sauce will fill your bellies so much, you and your guests will forget there wasn’t a bird.
You can always just pig out on the sweet stuff (pumpkin and pecan pies are ideal, but whatever floats your boat: apple, strawberry rhubarb, chocolate cream, key lime, lemon meringue) to the leftover marshmallows from your sweet potato casserole. The sugar will cause you and your guests to crash so early, you won’t have room for a main meal anyway.
Thanksgiving burgers for bros
Who doesn’t love a juicy burger and fries? Holiday it up by using ground turkey for the patty, fry up some of that boxed stuffing and form that into its own patty, pour some gravy on it, and garnish with lettuce, tomato and a cranberry mayo. Plate it with a side of sweet potato fries, maybe a cranberry aioli to dip them in, and use a knife and fork, just to make it seem more formal.
In most dishes that typically call for ground beef, chicken or pork, try turkey instead. A holiday lasagna, jambalaya or enchiladas will impress your guests, who’ll love that you’ve bucked tradition and still think you worked for hours on it.
Yeah, yeah, technically still a turkey but this one calls for your backyard, a lot of vegetable oil (or peanut, if you prefer), and a giant aluminum pot, ideally one with a drain basket. Bonus: it leaves all that dreaded heat outside so you and your guests aren’t sweating inside, and it takes half the time. Just make sure to read up on the proper handling instructions first.
The best way to deep-fry a bird is to do it just like William Shatner. Come on, who doesn’t want “a deep fried turkey, a moister, tastier turkey?”