No joke, the Great Turkey Shortage of 2022 is confirmed. Luckily, this little puzzle presents an excellent opportunity to enliven old traditions. Thanksgiving depends on decadence and big fall flavors, not on that familiar fowl. Expanding culinary horizons and putting a few new notches on the belt is always good. So here are some delectable options that will give our feathered friends time to recalibrate for next year.
A little smoky flavor goes a long way. This turkey alternative is simple: take the lightly smoky spices like cumin and smoked paprika, along with some salt and pepper, and apply them to the outside of the whole chicken or one broken down. Then, add grill marks using a traditional barbeque for a bit more smoke flavor or on a George Foreman grill, and finish in the oven. The smoked chicken will work well with classic Thanksgiving sides like mashed potatoes and squash gratin.
There are many benefits to preparing a lovely, crispy duck this year. First, searing off the skin will render a good amount of duck fat, known as “liquid gold,” which is excellent for other applications like roasted potatoes. Also, duck rarely dries out and takes just a fraction of the time a turkey takes to prepare.
Our tools of choice to ensure crispy duck skin: enameled cast iron! A shorter pan is excellent for the slow rendering process and also serves as a solid vessel to make a seriously decadent duck fat gravy. But save a bit of that liquid gold from coating some halved fingerlings and roasting off in an enameled roasting pan.
This fragrant dish comes packed with slowly stewed pieces of meat and vegetables. North African spice blends of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, turmeric, cumin, and paprika complement fall flavors and add a new but adjacent flavor dimension. And the little bits of dried fruits like apricot conjure the sacred meeting of salty and sweet.
Try using this traditional tagine pot — a truly spectacular centerpiece. Or a dutch oven also works to build flavors and textures. And speaking of textural triumphs, don’t forget to toast some sliced almonds in a smaller non-stick skillet for a killer garnish.
This Venetian dish is a physical embodiment of community and family. Some refuse to eat it in restaurants, believing homemade paella is second to none. A paella pan and fire source are all you need to get started. Traditionally, paella contains meat and seafood mixed in and served atop saffron rice. However, paella can be vegetarian or vegan without sidestepping any whimsy. Extra points are awarded for cooking over a campfire and having everyone eat directly out of the pan.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to try turkey alternatives for vegans and vegetarians. The suggestions below serve as a great side dish for any Thanksgiving meal. Packed with flavor without using meat, these vegetarian and vegan options work great as side dishes and main courses.
Get Your Pasta On
Pasta and gnocchi are not antithetical to Thanksgiving. Recipes including brown butter, crispy sage, and sweet potato scream fall. Regardless of dietary restrictions or the turkey shortage, making a point to get into the art of pasta making is evergreen. Who knows, once dazzling your friends and family with next-level pasta dishes becomes all too easy, a DIY pop-up is in order…next, the world!
Check out some of these tools to enhance your fresh pasta-making abilities:
- The book, Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by pasta chef extraordinaire Marc Vetri is a great place to start.
- Multi-pattern board for pasta and gnocchi.
- Marcato Pasta Machine - An alternative shortcut to hand rolling.
- Pasta Drying Rack - Instant kitchen counter vibe enhancer.
- Ravioli Stamps - Try filling them with squash and top with brown butter and crispy sage.
Quiche is a great side dish to a Thanksgiving meal, especially if you lean into fall flavors with autumn squashes like butternut and delicata. Round it off with some sage, leeks, mushrooms, and parmesan. Also, there is always the option to make several quiches, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian
Simply substitute tofu for the protein in any potpie recipe, and you will have the flavors of Thanksgiving and fall in an excellent little package. Protip: crisp up the tofu slowly in the oven and beforehand to get a little more texture. Once it marries with the fall gravy inside the pie, you will have achieved a sort of braised fall tofu effect that will have people falling in love on the first bite.
Give Turkeys a Break, Expand Your Palette
Thanksgiving turkey shortage aside, looking to other meal options is an excellent way to avoid worn-out culinary familiarity and boredom. Taking on tiny new directions in your cooking and relaxing into them can permeate days and evenings with a newfound spirit of well-being. So start slowly and share this delicious food with friends, family, and new friends.