Beyond the Bird

Eight deliciously different ideas for your Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving is all about good food, good friends and family, and gathering together to be grateful and celebrate. And while there are some tried-and-true menu items every group always HAS to have... nothing says the menu has to stay the same every year. Maybe you are tired of the traditional turkey-cranberries-pumpkin pie menu. Maybe you’ve been tasked with hosting and just don't have the time or space to roast a big bird. Or, perhaps you just want to put your unique stamp on the holidays and start some all-new family traditions of your own.

Whether you want to try a whole new menu or just swap in a side or two, check out these eight twists-on-the-traditional recipes for your Thanksgiving table this year.


Starters and Shareables

Paprika Sweet Potato Chips

• 1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), scrubbed
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Jalapeño-Cilantro Yogurt Spread, for dipping (or your dip/spread of choice)
1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
2. Slice the sweet potato into very thin rounds (1/16 inch thick; use a mandoline if you have one) and place in a large bowl. Add the oil, paprika, and salt and toss with your hands until thoroughly coated.
3. Place the slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets—the rounds can be touching but should not overlap.
4. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges of the chips curl up, the centers are just golden brown, and the tops are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the chips cool until crisp, about 3 minutes. Using your hands, carefully transfer the chips to a serving dish. Repeat with the second sheet. Serve immediately with dip or spread. (Try Chowhound's Jalapeño-Cilantro Yogurt Spread)

Adapted from Chowhound


Cranberry-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

For the meatballs 
• 1 1/4 lbs ground turkey, 90% lean
• 1/4 cup bread crumbs, plain
• 1/4 cup ricotta
• 1 egg, large
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 Tbs sage, chiffonade
• 2+Tbs vegetable oil

For the glaze 
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 12oz cranberries, fresh if available
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp zest (orange or tangerine)
• 2 Tbs ginger, minced and pressed
• 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Mix gently with a fork.
3. Form meat mixture into 3/4″ balls and place on tray. (Hint: try scooping with a melon baller and then rolling into sphere)
4. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet to medium. Gently add turkey meatballs in batches, careful not to overcrowd. Carefully turn meatballs to evenly brown on all sides. Place browned meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
5. Meanwhile, combine the water, sugar, cranberries, salt, zest, ginger, and apple cider vinegar in a medium pot.
6. Simmer on medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes until berries have all split open. Remove from hear, and stir in cayenne and adjust seasoning to taste. 
7. Transfer mixture to a strainer over a large saute pan. Press remaining juice thru with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Be sure to scrape the outside of the strainer to include the fine pulp.
8. Heat glaze on medium heat; allow to reduce and thicken (it should be the consistency of thick syrup). Add the meatballs to the glaze, heating through. Stir/spoon glaze over the top, as needed.
9. Transfer to a warm bowl or crockpot and serve!

Adapted from Brave Apron 


Super Sides

Rich Roasted Carrots and Lentils

For the carrots and lentils 
• 1 1/2 cup lentils; rinsed
• 1 small yellow onion
• 1 large bay leaf
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 bunches of carrots (you can also use 1 bunch of carrots and 1 bunch beets)
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• pinch each of salt and pepper
• 1 Tbsp fresh dill
• 1 Tbsp feta cheese
• 1 Tbsp sliced almonds

For the yogurt sauce 
• 1 cup Greek yogurt
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp fresh dill
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• pinch of salt 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Place lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches of water, add chopped onion and bay leaf. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until lentils are tender but still hold shape, about 15–20 mins. 
3. Add 1 tsp salt and more water if needed. 
4. When cooked, drain lentils. Discard the onion and bay leaf. 
5. Meanwhile, clean and peel carrots. Cut carrots in half (if using beets, cut those into quarters). Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet and place in oven. Cook for 20–30 mins. 
6. While roasting the vegetables, mince garlic cloves, finely chop dill, and juice a lemon. 
7. In a small bowl mix together Greek yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, finely chopped dill, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. 
8. When ready to serve, toss the lentils with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 
9. Place lentils on a large serving plate, top with roasted carrots, feta, and almonds. Drizzle the tangy herb yogurt over the top. 
10. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve extra yogurt sauce in a bowl on the side.    

Adapted from Peas Thank You


Braised Fennel

• 2 large or 4 small fennel bulbs
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
• 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1. Trim the fennel bulbs, reserving some of the fronds as garnish. Cut the fennel bulbs lengthwise into thick wedges. Sprinkle the fennel wedges with salt.
2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Let the butter cook for a minute or so until it starts to brown. Place the fennel cut-side-down in the pan in a single layer. Let cook, without moving, until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the stock and orange juice to the pan, and sprinkle the fennel wedges with orange zest. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the fennel is tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Serve, garnished with a sprinkling of the reserved fronds.

Adapted from Chowhound


Marvelous Main Dishes

Sage and Bay Prime Rib with Oven Roasted Potatoes

• 15 dried bay leaves, crumbled, plus whole leaves for garnish
• 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Coarse salt
• 1/3 cup finely grated orange zest, (from 3 oranges)
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 (about 7 pounds) three-rib prime rib of beef, trimmed and frenched
• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise
1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Stir together bay leaves, sage, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the orange zest in a small bowl. Season with pepper. Rub herb mixture all over the roast. Refrigerate roast, covered, overnight.
2. Put potatoes into a large pot of water. Bring to a boil; add salt. Cook 5 minutes. Drain. Score lines lengthwise in potatoes using the tines of a fork.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Transfer roast, fat side up, to a metal roasting pan; let stand until it comes to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Roast 15 minutes. Add potatoes; roast 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, turning potatoes after 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into meat (away from bone) registers 115 degrees for rare, about 1 hour. Let stand 20 minutes (temperature should rise to 125 degrees), and slice. Garnish with bay leaves and sage.

Adapted from Martha Stewart


Stuffed Turkey Breast With Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage

• 2 (3 lb) skin-on, boneless turkey breasts
• 5 1/2 tsps kosher salt, divided
• 2 1/2 tsps freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 2 tsps ground fennel, divided
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 10 ounces sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
• 1 1/2 cups homemade croutons (see Cooks’ Note) or plain small-dice store-bought croutons
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, divided
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cups peeled, 1/4"–1/2"-cubed butternut squash
• 1 cup chopped fennel
• 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 3 Tbsp chopped thyme
• 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
• 5 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth, divided
• 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1. Pound turkey. Working one at a time, place turkey breast, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife and cutting parallel to board, slice through thickest part of breast, cutting along length of breast without cutting all the way through, then open breast like a book. Place breast in between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to a uniform thickness of 1/2".
2. Season inside of breast with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. ground fennel. Transfer skin side up to a rimmed baking sheet; season with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. ground fennel. Repeat with remaining breast. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour, or chill up to 24 hours for maximum flavor and juiciness (if chilled, let sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting).
3. Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, stirring and breaking up into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a large bowl, leaving drippings behind.
4. Meanwhile, place croutons on a rimmed baking sheet. Crush slightly with the bottom of a small pot or pan until some pieces are smaller.
5. Return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Add onion, squash, chopped fennel, garlic, thyme, and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6–8 minutes.
6. Stir in kale, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup broth and cook, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan, until kale is wilted and butter is melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Fold in croutons and parsley; if mixture seems dry, add 1/4 cup broth.
7. Flip breasts so they are skin side down. Divide stuffing between breasts, spreading with a spatula and leaving a 1" border. Starting at 1 short end, roll each breast into a log, completely enclosing stuffing, then transfer each to separate, large pieces of cheesecloth. Wrap cheesecloth around turkey and secure by tying a piece of twine at each end (like a sausage). Tie 4–5 pieces of twine crosswise around log, spacing about 2–2 1/2" apart. Rub remaining 4 Tbsp. butter all over breasts and transfer skin side up to roasting pan.
8. Pour enough broth (about 4 cups) to come 1/4" up sides of turkey. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes and adding more broth if pan starts to dry out, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 155°F, 60–70 minutes.
9. Transfer to a cutting board and let sit 15–20 minutes (internal temperature should rise to 165°F). Remove twine and slice crosswise about 1/2" thick to serve.
Cooks’ Notes
Special equipment: Butcher's twine and cheesecloth
Crouton recipe: preheat oven to 400°F. Slice rustic country-style bread into 1/2" cubes to make 1 1/2 cups. Toast cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until dry and just golden brown, 10–12 minutes.

Adapted from Epicurious


You Can't Say No to Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Cinna-mmm-mmm-mmm Rolls

For the rolls 
• 2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
• 4 Tbsp butter, melted
• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
• 1 Tbsp milk
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

For the frosting 
• 4-oz cream cheese, softened
• 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
To make the rolls:
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray; set aside.
3. Separate dough into 16 rolls and unroll.
4. Brush each piece of dough with melted butter.
5. In a small bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Evenly divide pumpkin filling and spread over each piece of rolled-out dough.
7. Carefully roll up each dough, lightly pinching seams together.
8. Arrange the rolls 1 inch apart in the prepared cake pan.
9. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
In the meantime prepare the frosting:
1. Place cream cheese in your mixer's bowl and cream for 1 minute.
2. Gradually add in powdered sugar and continue to beat until well combined.
3. Mix in pumpkin pie spice.
4. Add vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.
5. Remove pans from oven and immediately brush each roll with frosting.
6. Serve.     

Adapted from Diethood


Caramel Pecan Carrot Cupcakes

For the cake 
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup finely shredded carrots
• 1 small can, 8 ounce crushed pineapple, well-drained (or 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce)
• 1/2 cup pecans, chopped, toasted (see notes)
• 1/2 cups raisins, optional

For the frosting 
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup caramel topping
• 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped (toasted)
• 12 whole pecans, toasted 
To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well and add oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in carrots, pineapple, raisins, and nuts until combined.
3. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
In the meantime prepare the frosting:
1. With an electric mixer (hand or standing), cream butter, 2 1/2 cups sugar, vanilla, and salt together starting at a slow speed (about 2 minutes). Continue to cream for a couple minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Add cream cheese 2 oz at a time, and beat 2 more minutes (scrape down as needed). If needed, add more powdered sugar to thicken the frosting.
3. Frost cupcakes. Use a piping bag for a more decorative look.
4. Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the tops of the frosted cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
NOTES: To toast pecans: Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Let cool completely before adding to batter.

Adapted from Garnish and Glaze

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