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Nov 9, 2013 08:49 AM

Thanksgiving Alternatives to Turkey?

We will not have that many people for Thanksgiving and I don't particularly like turkey. I've never prepared anything else though, but I'm debating branching out and trying something new. (If I did do turkey, I would just do a breast.)

Right now, I'm debating between a goose, duck, or capon. I also could get good Scottish game birds too.

Has anyone cooked any of the above for Thanksgiving and care to share their experiences and preferences?

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  1. Many choose the Duck or Capon...simply for the smaller size, or for the same reasons you are considering it, that you don't like Turkey.

    My family also did not enjoy Turkey for many years, so we had the Capons...Our ususal roast was a Full 7-Rib Prime Rib Roast. My Italian relatives always have Lasagna available as well. Many couple who don't plan on spending time with family will simply roast a Chicken. There's no steadfast rule Turkey is required for the day.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      I know there's not a rule about turkey on Thanksgiving. ;) Having not prepared any of the above, I just wanted to hear varying experiences/techniques.

      1. re: loratliff

        There used to be a famous restaurant in New Hampshire that only featured Duck, or possible it was their signature dish. It was slow roasted for 9 hours and completely rendered of any fat. Great Stuff. As for crisping skin, you can poke, but it only needs 10 minutes at 450-475 to get delectable.

        Many try to impart flavor and taste via aromatics...but I have never had any meat taste like the flavors used have penetrated to the interior of the muscle fibers. If you brine, then you can taste the hint of saltiness or sweetness...but for me you trade off the texture of the natural state of the meat. To me, brined birds have the texture of rubber.

        If you want flavor, concentrate on sauce, gravy or pan juices.

        1. re: loratliff

          Once upon a time, the only way to get a BIG chicken was to buy a capon, for a premium price. But these days my supermarket routinely has roasting chickens weighing over 8#, for $1 a pound when on sale. I too prefer chicken to turkey and since these are larger than some of the poultry farm's capons, which cost three times as much, I go with chicken.

          Duck is sublime, but you'll be hard-pressed to feed 3 people from one duck. General rule is 2 people, one duck.

          There's always pasta carbonara. Google "trillin carbonara" for the amusing reason.

      2. I am roasting a duck. Will probably do it on the rotisserie. I am going to prep in the Asian method, loosening the skin, drying it for maximum crispiness.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          I just read about that exact method on Food & Wine's website. Have you found it to be worth the trouble? I LOVE crispy skin.

          1. re: loratliff

            There is also the five hour duck that is delicious and easy.
            I love the idea of trying something new.

        2. I made the following recipe many times as it's amazing and made it once for thanksgiving as there were only a few of us.

          It's a chicken stuffed with ground beef, rice, and nuts. It's way more delicious than it sounds.

          The recipe is in the link below, second recipe

          5 Replies
          1. re: Siegal

            I can't get it out of my mind. I am making it tomorrow night for dinner. I have never had anything like it and never would have thought about stuffing a chicken with beef, my mind is open...

            1. re: DowntownJosie

              It is so good too.

              Halfway through I uncover the extra stuffing and put it on the bottom of the roasting pan so it crisps up in the chicken fat and juices....

              1. re: Siegal

                Do you roast it for two hrs? Seems like a very long time. I am very tempted to add raisins or dried apricots to the stuffing, have you tried adding dried fruit? Do you think it would be good?

                1. re: DowntownJosie

                  I'm not sure how long I cook it I usually just check it. Maybe check at 90 min as every oven is different

                  I haven't added dried fruit. If you like the mix of sweet and savory I would go ahead. Or since this makes a lot of stuffing maybe add the fruit to either the one in the chicken or the one on the side.

                  I also add more spices (same spices just more). I assume bc I have crappy old supermarket spices while I'm sure the author has high quality fresh ones from a spice store or market.

                  1. re: Siegal

                    Thank you. I make a meat sauce with cinnamon and raisins when making moussaka or pasticcio and I always add raisins to my caponata which also has a little cinnamon in it so just made the transition to this recipe. The funny thing is that I don't particularly like raisins.

          2. Besides all the good bird alternatives, any kind of game: Venison, bison or my own choice, wild boar. You can get it from