Alternative Thanksgiving menus and unusual ideas

I used to work with a woman whose family always had tacos for Thanksgiving. I was deeply jealous that she was able to skip the whole turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, etc. menu. So I’m curious to know how others take their own Thanksgiving path - not just replacing a dish or two but the whole thing. Since I’m too hidebound (aka chicken) to do something like this, reading about your experiences will let me live vicariously.
For example, as Calvin Trillin (one of my all-time favorite food writers) suggested, spaghetti carbonara would be the perfect replacement.
From Food 52:

I am going to make sure that this Thanksgiving will be the best from the others. So I started to look for different recipes. And found Sturgeon with caviar, fennel and dill oil
The recipe is not too complicated. But will it be OK for еhe Thanksgiving? It is a rather important question for me today.

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Mod talk:
@TheLibrarian @BillyRoss

I’ve combined your 2 threads together, as they are quite similar.

At my Aunt and Uncle’s house holidays are chicken fried steak, her parents both disliked turkey. I loved going to holidays there when I lived near them!

We’re going to a Friendsgiving and no one has mentioned turkey. We never make it at our house either. We prefer prime rib.

I’m doing dinner just for a small group, so I’m doing sous vide duck breasts, with an apricot/sherry/broth sauce. First time for me–fingers crossed.

I’m also doing veggies and making a turkey-gravy sauce for an apple and bacon bread dressing, because I just can’t do Thanksgiving without bread dressing. So it’s a two-sauce dinner.

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I don’t care for turkey so I usually have an alternate meat. Last year was a pork belly porchetta, this year will be duck confit and seared breasts in addition to turkey. I feel NO compulsion to serve turkey as the main dish but often end up cooking some just to have extra protein for leftovers and/or making stock, etc.

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Its funny…our Thanksgiving always has to be exactly the same. The only change has been swapping out chicken for turkey (my great-grandmother didnt like turkey), and dropping a cranberry salad that everyone finally admitted that no one really ever liked, anyway.

Christmas, however, is anything goes…we have had traditional menu, seafood, Italian, a wide range of center-plate proteins…we never do the same menu twice in a row.

The above post was meant to be funny rather than offensive; the “F” bomb is dropped with semi-regularity around here. After all, the topic was alternative or unusual holiday plans, hence was posted for some levity, at what can be a stressful time of year for many people. If rules apply to specific words, they should be banned across the board for everyone.


Don’t sweat it. Many people like the pre-then-post-sear method (including me). For me it just takes less time post searing. Takes too long and it might be too cooked through so be careful.

Test with one breast before the actual prep just so you know how it goes.

I like the pomp and circumstance that comes with roasting a turkey and making stuffing/dressing. We only make it once a year at Thanksgiving so I offer that turkey IS an alternative. On the other hand I have little interest in mashed potatoes although it ends up on the table a handful of times each year. Zero interest in green bean casserole.

This year after extended family negotiations: turkey, dressing, confit byaldi, Hasselback potatoes, cranberry, green salad, glazed carrots. I pushed for onion stuffed onions but lost. Apple pie.

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Chinese. No lines, and open on Thanksgiving.

Same. I make mashed at Thanksgiving only because my husband insists, but they never grace my table otherwise. And green bean casserole, NEVER EVER. Repulsive stuff. This year I MAY make a cheesy broccoli casserole if DH wants it (and is willing to go to the store this afternoon to buy the ingredients), but that is as close as I will ever get to GBC.

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My parents are catering BBQ this year for our Thanksgiving meal because the restaurant owes my dad a lot of money! My dad is a plumber and I remember several instances over the years where customers paid off their debts this way. There was a bakery that paid off their balance by giving my dad a pie or two a week for over a year.

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It’s interesting how comfort food and tradition vary from person to person. For me at least some has changed with time. There was a time when “cheesy” was a plus but now it just presages gas and bloating. grin On the other hand as an adolescent fish made me ill and now I like it.

BBQ sounds great. My grandfather was a doctor, and he had a baker patient who paid him in trays of eclairs. Before my time unfortunately!

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Do you feel that pre-seariing in needful? I was thinking of just searing at the end…

Some people don’t even bother but I like mine pre-seared. It reduces time on post sear and skin is crispier. Can’t go wrong either way.

Test 2 breasts at the same time and see which you like best.

Take a look at this:

Plumbers Rock!
Happy T-gvg…to you and yours!

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We are putting out smoked whitefish salad, caviar, gravlax and champagne with some baguettes, instead of California onion dip and chips.
About time we “upscaled” it…


Mmmm, I’ll be over - gravlax and champagne are my favs! Sounds like a lovely spread @PHREDDY! Enjoy.

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