Alternatives to Turkey for Smaller Celebrations

Thanksgiving dinner is traditionally a sprawling affair of all-day cooking and company, a feast for gathered friends and family. Some years, however, travel arrangements fall through, the extended family is out of town, and your friends are otherwise engaged. Without a large group to feed, the customary turkey and trimmings meal may seem like overkill; what, then, to cook for a party of four or fewer?

Here are a few of my favorite alternatives for your menu-planning-consideration; additional bonus of going outside the box? No competition in the grocery store, and no last-minute “all the turkeys are gone!” panic.

Show-Stopping Substitutes for Turkey:

Gigot de Sept Heures (7 Hour Leg of Lamb)

I love this recipe more than words can say; I first encountered it in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook and it is decidedly worth the effort. One note? Don’t skip the pastry seal. It’s messy but oh-so-worth-it.

Intimidated by 7-hours? Perhaps Ina Garten’s 4 Hour Lamb or Roast Duck in under two hours may tempt you.

If poultry is your preference, check out this Bastilla recipe; in three hours you can create one of the most delicious chicken dishes going; bonus points for impressing your guests with an exotic twist to your menu. For simplicity and salivation, don’t overlook a well-roasted chicken.

Vegetarians needn’t sacrifice flavor or showmanship- check out these tasty savory pastries, Three Sister’s Squash, and for a dramatic appearance see what really big beets bring to the table.

Finally, check out fellow Oatie Sebrina’s cranberry and cherry compote; good enough to eat on it’s own and well-paired with most of the above options, you needn’t skip the cranberry sauce this season.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, big or small.

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