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Okay, so it HAS to be turkey...recipes for a turkey hater?

We are hosting T-day this year and will have some visitors who expect a traditional meal (I don't usually do these when it's just family.) I'm fine with the side dishes and the veggie main dish once I come up with them, that is, but does anyone have a great turkey recipe--interesting marinade, sauce or rub that will make the turkey more fun to prepare and perhaps taste good? I'd thought of deep frying (because you could fry a sneaker and make it taste good), but am not comfortable with a vat of boiling oil in the driveway next to my 300 year old wood frame house and only a volunteer fire department serving my town.

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  1. Last time I had T-Day I had a brisket and ham. I don't care for turkey either. However, if you *must* have turkey, why not do a brisket or ham too? The brisket is sooo easy and I bought a Honey-baked ham. It can be a bit more expensive as you will be surprised how many people opt for the turkey alternative.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      I was planning on doing a roast leg of lamb and a mushroom bread pudding as my alternatives, but that brisket sounds like an easier alternative. I may try that!

      I am hoping to find a fun way to deal with the turkey, too. I hate cooking a big piece of meat that I don't like, so was hoping to have some new way of preparing it to make it more fun. Wonder if I should just do a turkey breast, since so many of us don't eat it.

      1. re: Isolda

        This is what we do....we use the Ina method on a turket breast....delish!

    2. Why not consider cornish game hens or squabs instead of turkey? These are delicious roasted & basted with a orange five spice glaze. Serve on a large platter with a bed of wild rice & everyone should love it

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        That sounds much better to me, but I'm wondering if the game hens would "count" if someone is really expecting turkey? I'd hate to disappoint people who have to have a certain dish. Maybe I could call them micro-turkeys?

        1. re: Isolda

          While it's not turkey, it is poultry so I'd think serving something along these lines would not be as disappointing as serving a non poultry item...Also, since you don't care for turkey, it could show the guests what you could do with a turkey less but satisfying nevertheless Thanksgiving....JMO.

      2. One year my sister boned a turkey breast and slit & pounded the meat to an even thickness, stuffed it with a Greek-flavored stuffing (spinach, feta, basil, oregano, lemon juice, bread crumbs, eggs, etc.), rolled it, tied it, and cooked it on a bed of carrots & celery with broth in a covered pan in the oven.

        it wasn't at all traditional, but it was very tasty. Plus, the turkey breast and stuffing can be prepped and stored separately the day before and just assembled before cooking.

        3 Replies
        1. re: weezycom

          That sounds seriously edible! We all love Greek food in this house (well, except for my son, but he's having his traditional pizza). Recipe, please?

          1. re: Isolda

            I'm afraid I don't have the recipe, I'm going from what I know I tasted & could see in it. The stuffing is similar to a spanokopita stuffing but amped up with bread crumbs and broth or something added for some additional moisture to counterbalance the bread crumbs.

            1. re: weezycom

              I just remembered one other thing about the rolled turkey -- before she tied it off, my sister had wrapped it in cheesecloth that had been soaked in water and then brushed with oil on the turkey side of the wrapping to keep the shape symmetrical, the contents from shifting and even cooking.

        2. Last year we hosted Thanksgiving and I don't care for turkey and neither did some other guests so I made another main and turned the turkey into pulled "pork". Cooked the bird till falling off the bone in the crock pot (took 2 crocks to stuff all the parts into) and then shredded and seasoned with the broth and liquid smoke. Made good leftovers.

          2 Replies
          1. re: onigiri

            Did you brown the turkey first before stuffing it into the pots? Seasonings other than liquid smoke? (Not that liquid smoke isn't enough!)

            1. re: Isolda

              Didn't brown the turkey. Just added chicken and vegetable broth to keep it from burning in the crock pot. Added liquid smoke to the broth and salt to taste and then mixed it into the shredded meat.

          2. Fry the turkey....Two of them.....12-14 pounds each.....No larger


            2 Replies
            1. re: Uncle Bob

              Agree that two small turkeys are better than one big one. We had an 11-pounder one year and it was the best turkey I'd ever had.

              Spatchcocking the turkeys also helps, if you're going to go the oven-roasted route.

              1. re: operagirl

                Spatchcocked Greek with lots of lemon juice and oregano, etc.
                Mexican Turkey in Mole.

            2. Cornish game hens will not pass as a turkey substitute at Thanksgiving if they are expecting traditional dinner. An aunt did this years ago and we still give her grief about it. I'm not a huge fan of turkey, but deep fried they are delicious. I just make the stuffing in a crockpot to go along with it. And they don't take long to cook either!!

              1. Maybe just do a turkey breast for those who really want turkey and then maybe the ham, brisket or lamb or even prime rib roast. I wouldn't think you would have to do a whole turkey.

                1. Sadly, I have lost my original marinade recipe, but essentially you cook shallots till they are translucent, add a bottle of white wine, salt, pepper, dried herbs of your choice, maybe some garlic, probably a couple of bay leaves, and put your turkey into 2 of those reynolds oven bags. Cool the boiled marinade & put it into the oven bag with the turkey, and set the double-bagged turkey into a dish in the fridge. Turn it several times over about 24 hours. It's probably delicious if you just roast it right in all that marinade inside the first oven bag following package directions, making it like a braised turkey and sacrificing the crispy skin thing. But otherwise you take it out of the marinade, pat dry, and roast like you'd normally roast a turkey. You boil the heck out of the marinade it sat in, to reduce it AND get rid of any turkeygerms - and use that with the drippings for the gravy.

                  I think the original recipe had juniper berries, and I suspect it was from a Food & Wine mag from the 1990s or even the late '80s - but my husband is a thrower-awayer, and the original is lost lost lost....

                  I use variations of this every couple of years as the second, non-traditional turkey, and it's always garnered huge rave reviews. I'm sorry I don't have exact proportions or anything though. I'd recommend pre-testing with poultry you do like.... just be sure to boil the heck out of the marinade & don't use too much salt.

                  1. make a turkey on the weber grill with mesquite-looks as traditional as a Rockwell painting but taste smokey and yunmy-a different bird, for sure.

                    1. Be forewarned that it is with a light heart that I must admit that I cannot fathom how anyone could not like turkey. I realize that it is frequently ill-prepared due to the fact that it is not the most forgiving meat to cook, but isn’t that akin to saying you don’t like sushi because you’ve only tried the stuff from the A&P? Is it possible that maybe your perception of what turkey “tastes” like was skewed by eating those “frozen since time began” mega-birds?

                      Turkey can be a wonderful treat. It loves the subtle addition of complimentary flavors through brining or a well-applied rub. Like others, I suggest trying smaller birds – 12 to 15 pounds perhaps. I also insist that you find a fresh one – I think freezing affects the breast meat of a turkey more than it does most other animal flesh.

                      Frying a turkey is a undoubtedly a tasty way to change your mind about the “runner-up” for America’s national bird. Nevertheless, I understand your trepidations concerning doing so the first time. Like much outdoor cooking, frying a turkey is a step outside of most home cooks comfort zones.

                      Barbecuing a turkey is also an out of the box approach capable of changing the mind of an ardent turkey-hater. My preferred technique employs a slightly higher grill temperature than that used for big cuts of pork and beef. I also use more charcoal than wood in my fuel ratio. Both of these barbecue modifications are designed to reduce the cooking time and introduce less smoke flavor to the bird. As with frying, however, this is a more difficult turkey preparation probably ill-advised to try the first time on the big day.

                      As noted, another “main” dish is often welcome at the Thanksgiving table. It provides a safety valve should poor execution foul the fowl. Nevertheless, a simple brine, herbs rubbed on the skin, and a good roasting pan/rack combination are the keys to a properly roasted turkey. I like a 325 oven and a little water in the bottom of the pan. I like putting some onion and garlic in the cavity while roasting. I like to pull it out of the oven when the breast is still a bit south of 160 degrees. . . .

                      Hell, truth is I like turkey. I cook 8 to 10 a year, not counting the occasional birds I guest fry for others. I like the way it makes my house smell on a fall afternoon. I like the 4 stages of eating it. Man, how could anybody not like turkey? It’s like not liking baseball, or sunny days. . . .

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MGZ

                        Sorry to disappoint you, but I've had all sorts of turkeys---defrosted supermarket turkey, heritage turkey, illegally shot in someone's backyard turkey, smoked turkey, deep-fried turkey. I just don't enjoy turkey as much as I do other meats. It's a matter of taste and there's really no accounting for taste.

                        Smoked turkey is usually acceptable. In fact, that's all we had for Thanksgiving for years because my uncle would smoke them and send them to us.

                        ETA: sorry for the second screen name. I didn't realize I had two on this site! In any case, Isolda and Isoldamay are one and the same, and neither is my real name, which is quite boring.

                        1. re: Isoldamay

                          I'm with you Isolda. Turkey is not my favourite meat, and I've also prepared it many different ways. I'd much rather serve a goose for the holidays. Or duck. Or anything, really. But my wife insists on a traditional T'giving and a traditional Xmas dinner. In return, I get to cook whatever I want during the rest of the holidays. And I do. Lobster bisque, duck, squab (coming up soon). All manner of critters get cooked this time of year in our household. But on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Day, there will be turkey.

                        2. re: MGZ

                          I also enjoy turkey, and I am struck by how many people seem unhappy about it. And when the point is that it is not someone's favorite thing, then I'm not sure how that really matters, because how many things can be one's favorite, anyway?

                          I suppose that my favorite meat is lamb. But that fact doesn't keep me from relishing countless other meats--such as turkey.

                          Not to go all psychological without evidence, but I wonder whether all of the cultural symbolism and family baggage of the Thanksgiving holiday doesn't just basically put many people into an unreceptive mood.

                        3. absolutely amazing- wasn't a turkey lover til this recipe

                          1. We've never had a bad turkey by following these general tips:
                            - Reserve a non-frozen, natural / organic bird. Avoid large toms which are more likely to cook unevenly.
                            - Brine the night before (search sfgate.com for specifics). Contain turkey+brine in doubled trash bags. Store in an insulated cooler outside with two inches ice+water in bottom to keep contents between 34 and 40 degrees.
                            - Roast in 350 degree oven using a remote read thermometer until leg internal temp reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven, cover with foil, let temp 'coast' to at least 165 degrees.

                            As far as a rub, a mixture of butter and smoked paprika worked over and under the skin enhances the flavor and appearance.

                            1. Have you tried the new infrared turkey fryer? Does NOT use oil and the taste is marvelous!
                              You can buy them at Lowe's, the Sports Authority.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Misslady30904

                                Now, that sounds like something I'd like to try! Unfortunately, my husband launched a pre-emptive strike and ordered a smoked Willie Bird from Williams-Sonoma. It looks great, but I've got ham as a back up and because it's the only thing my picky son requested.

                                But next year....