Thanksgiving Dinner Alternatives To Turkey

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, menu planning for the big day can quickly become a pain in the giblets. If you wait to long it can be almost impossible to find a turkey before Thanksgiving and buying the turkey in advance takes up a lot of room in the freezer. Save yourself some time and stress with these equally delicious main courses that will leave your guests feeling impressed and more importantly full.
Beef Wellington With Spinach And Bacon
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of beef fillet, cut from the centre of the fillet so that it’s all the same size
  • large lump of butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 lb (500g) of spinach
  • 12 thin slices smoked pancetta or rindless streaky bacon
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 lb (500g) pack all-butter puff pastry
  • 2 egg yolk

Gravy Ingredients

  • small lump of butter for substance
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • glass of red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube

Directions

  • Pat the beef fillet dry to remove any blood, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan until very hot, then sear and turn the fillet with tongs for 8 – 10 minutes, be sure to hold it up to sear both ends as well, until well browned on all sides. Set the beef aside on a tray. Next, take the pan off the heat, but don’t clean it.
  • In a colander, pour boiling water over the spinach to wilt it, then follow-up with cold water to cool it down. Next, squeeze the spinach as hard as you can to extract as much liquid as possible, then set aside. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Overlap the pancetta or bacon on the cling wrap into a row, then cover the top with more cling wrap. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the pancetta into a thin layer. Remove the top layer of wrap and scatter the spinach over the pancetta. Replace the plastic wrap atop and roll again. Carefully peel away the top layer and place the beef on top. Using the edge of the plastic wrap, lift and roll the pancetta and spinach to encase the beef and roll everything into a tight sausage. Place the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up for best results. Try not to leave it in the freezer for longer or the cooking times will be affected.
  • On lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle about as large as a magazine. Trim the edges for a neat look, than lightly brush the pastry with egg yolk. Using the meat removed from the freezer, carefully unwrap the beef and lay in the middle of the pastry. First, fold the shorter edges over then beef, then roll the entire pastry around the filet to encase it. For a polished effect, use another clean sheet of plastic cling wrap to roll the Wellington, yet again, into a tight encasing. Chill for at least 30 minutes or for best results 1 day.
  • Heat the oven to 425/400 degrees Fahrenheit followed by a lightly oiled baking tray into the oven. Unwrap the Wellington, brush with egg yolk, then use the back of a knife to score a criss-cross patter over the pastry. Garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt and transfer to the hot baking tray. Roast for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 400/350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to cook for 25 minutes for rare, 30 for medium rare, 35 for medium, making sure the pastry doesn’t burn. If you see that the pastry has started to brown but the meat hasn’t cooked long enough, cover with tin foil. Remove the pastry from the oven and immediately brush with more egg yolk. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • For the gravy, heat the butter in the beef pan from earlier. Fry the shallot, thyme and bay leaf while scraping the crispy bits off the pan with a wooden spoon. Scatter the flour over the pan followed by the rest of the wine. Bring the mixture to a boil till it forms a purple paste. Then, add the beef stock cube, and any juice from the resting beef tray from earlier and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  • Use a sharp knife to carve the Wellington into 6 thick slices and serve with the gravy on the side.
Herbed Pork Tenderloin With Apple Chutney

Apple Chutney
Make ahead two weeks in advance and store covered in the fridge or serve warm
Prep: 8 min
Cook: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 8 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (4 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Directions

  • Combine the ginger, orange juice, onion, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt in a medium-size saucepan.
  • Add the apples immediately after being chopped to avoid browning.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour until most of the liquid has evaporated, stir as needed.
  • Next, add the raisins and serve either warm or cold.

Pork Tenderloin
Make ahead two weeks in advance and store covered in the fridge or serve warm
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 25 min
Total Time: 35 min

Ingredients

  • 2 pork tenderloins (2½ to 3 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • good olive oil
  • 10 to 12 slices prosciutto

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pat dry the tenderloins with paper towels.
  • Combine the thyme, rosemary, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
  • With two tablespoons of olive oil, cover the tenderloins. Next, cover all sides of the pork with the herb mixture. Tuck the thinner “tail” end of the tenderloin underneath in order to achieve an even thickness if the size is inconsistent.
  • Completely wrap the tenderloins with a layer of prosciutto placing them sideways with the ends wrapping underneath. Using kitchen string, tie the tenderloin in several places to hold the prosciutto and “tail” in place.
  • On a sheet pan, roast both tenderloins for about 20 to 25 minutes or until an inserted thermometer in the center of the meat reads 145 degrees for medium.
  • With aluminum foil, cover the loins tightly and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Slice on a diagonal and serve warm with the Apple Chutney.
Tangerine And Herb Branzino
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 30 min
Total Time: 35 min

Ingredients

  • two 1 1/4-pound branzino, gutted and scaled
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tangerines or 2 small oranges
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • With a paper towel, pat the whole fish dry.
  • Make two shallow cuts on a slight diagonal on each side scoring the skin of the fish.
  • Season each fish with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper inside and out.
  • Slice 1 of the tangerines into 8 rounds discarding any seeds. With the remaining tangerine, half and squeeze 1/4 cup of juice out.
  • Stuff the cavity of each branzino with the oregano/rosemary sprigs and tangerine slices.
  • With kitchen string, loosely tie around the belly to hold the fillings inside.
  • On medium-heat in a large oven-safe skillet, add two tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Working one at a time, sear the branzino in the pan for 3 minutes on each side, pressing down gently to ensure even browning. Reduce to medium, cook for another minute or two, then flip the fish and repeat on the other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, add two tablespoons of olive oil, and place both fish on the prepared sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and bake the fish for about 8 minutes until crispy.
  • After 8 minutes, remove from the oven, untie and discard the string, then let rest for 4 minutes.
  • While the fish rests, in a small bowl combine and whisk together the Dijon mustard, tangerine juice, chopped oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt and four teaspoons olive oil.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette over the fish and serve warm.
Roasted Cornish Game Hens
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 1o min

Ingredients

  • 6 cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each, rinsed and dried thoroughly
  • 1 green bell pepper, large dice
  • 2 stalks celery, large dice
  • 1 onion, large dice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the lemon pepper, dried basil, salt, and poultry seasoning.
  • Next, rub the olive oil all over the hens followed by the salt mixture.
  • Place the hens on a wire rack leaving some space between each hen followed by a foil lined baking sheet pan underneath. You may need to use two racks.
  • Loosely stuff the cavities of each hen with the onion, green bell pepper and celery.
  • Roast the hens in the oven for an hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Farenheit. The juices should run clear.
  • After an hour, remove the hens from the oven, cover loosely with a foil tent and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Pot Roast
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 3 to 4 hours and 15 min
Total Time: 3/4 hours 30 min

Ingredients

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one 3 to 5-pound chuck roast
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole onions, peeled and halved
  • 6 to 8 whole carrots, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 2. Salt and pepper the chuck roast generously.
  • On medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven.
  • Cook the onions until brown on both sides, then remove to a plate.
  • Add the carrots into the same pot and cook until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Add the carrots to the plate with the onions.
  • Add extra olive oil if necessary, then place the meat into the pot and begin to sear for about a minute or so on all sides until you achieve a nice even browning on all sides. Once finished, remove the roast to a separate plate.
  • With the same pot, on medium-high heat, add the red wine or beef broth, about a cup or so, to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.
  • Return the roast back to the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the meat about halfway.
  • Return the carrots and onions back to the pot and add the fresh herbs.
  • With the lid on, roast the meat for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast or 4 hours for a 4 to 5-pound roast. When the meat becomes tender and begins to fall apart the roast is ready.
Lasagna Roll Ups (Vegetarian)
Prep: 8 min
Cook: 40 min
Total Time: 48 min

Ingredients

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, spinach, egg, pepper and salt.
  • In a 9 x 12 baking dish, spoon one cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  • Take your cooked/dry lasagna noodles and lay out each one individually onto a big sheet of wax or parchment paper.
  • Evenly spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture on each noodle.
  • Next, carefully roll each noodle placing the seam side down onto the prepared baking dish.
  • Add the remaining marinara sauce over the noodles followed by a tablespoon of mozzarella cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted.
  • Once finished, let cool for 2 minutes and serve over warm marinara sauce.
Merissa Principe is a teacher and a freelance travel blogger from NYC. Teaching early childhood education has provided Merissa an opportunity to travel all over the world and live in new places. Be sure to follow her at Citygirlriss.wordpress.com for all things travel, beauty, fashion and New York City.

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