Tired of Turkey? Main Course Alternatives For Thanksgiving

November 27, 2013 10:00 PM

Mac & Cheese (credit: Thinkstock)

Not everyone likes turkey. Although it is the traditional main course for Thanksgiving (and often Christmas) dinner, there are those who prefer chicken, fish or even a casserole – and of course, there are vegetarians and vegans who need options. For those reasons and more, here are four main course alternatives to build the family Thanksgiving meal around.

Apricot Braised Chicken

apricot braised chicken Tired of Turkey? Main Course Alternatives For Thanksgiving

Photo Credit Thinkstock


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4-6 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1-2 cups dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups apricot nectar (or 1 8 oz. Jar apricot preserves, no sugar)
  • 1 cups diced dried apricots
  • Salt & Pepper


Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt & pepper.
Heat oil in two large sauté pans over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown chicken breasts well on both sides.
In the same pans add the shallots, cook them a little, and then add the wine. Reduce wine by about half and then add the nectar (if using the preserves do not reduce the wine first) and the dried apricots.
Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with steamed asparagus or fresh spinach.

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Adrienne Sussman of Adrienne Restaurant.

Meat Lover’s Strata

meat lover s strata Tired of Turkey? Main Course Alternatives For Thanksgiving

Photo Credit Thinkstock


  • 1 lb sausage (can use pork, chicken, etc…), browned in a frying pan, drained, and diced
  • 12 ounces bacon, browned and drained
  • 1/2 loaf stale French bread, cubed
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A large casserole dish about 9 x 13


To cook the bacon, lay the strips out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and broil until crisp, but not burned. Once cooled, crumble them.
If the bread is not stale, cube it and toast it in the oven till crisp.
In a casserole layer the bacon, sausage and bread.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs with the 1/2 and 1/2, salt, and mustard. Pour over the layered ingredients submerge all the dry ingredients, making sure they are covered with liquid.
Cover and refrigerate six hours or more.
When ready to bake, let the Strata come to room temperature and then bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

This recipe, as the next, is courtesy of Chef Kashia Cave of My City Kitchen.

Simple Bake Mac & Cheese

bake mac   cheese Tired of Turkey? Main Course Alternatives For Thanksgiving

Photo Credit Thinkstock


  • 1 box of gluten free pasta  (Recommend Heartland or Ancient Harvest Brand)
  • 1 ½ cup of warm skim milk
  • 4 cups of cheddar cheese (Reserve 1 cup of cheese for the topping)
  • 3 tablespoon of  butter
  • 2 tsp of  Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray


Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. In the mean time heat the oven at 400 degrees. In a lager mixing bowl add the pasta, butter and egg together. Place all the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl until it’s creamy. 

Take a medium size baking dish and coat with the cooking spray.  Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish, use the remaining cheese and sprinkle over the pasta bake until the cheese is golden brown about 20-25 mins. 

For The Vegetarians:

Roasted Tomato Bread Pudding

bread pudding Tired of Turkey? Main Course Alternatives For Thanksgiving

Photo Credit Thinkstock


  • 3 lb plum tomatoes sliced lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons favorite dried herbs
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 8 cups cubed French baguette
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 extra large eggs
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Fontina (10 oz)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • A large casserole dish (about 13 by 9 inches).


Preheat oven to 375°F.
Use non stick spray to coat the casserole dish. Toss tomatoes in a bowl with your herbs of choice.
Add 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Place tomatoes on a sheet pan with the seed side up.
To the sheet pan, add the garlic head, with the top cut off, drizzled with oil, and wrapped in silver foil.
Roast the tomatoes/garlic for 1 hour. Allow to cool, and obtain the garlic puree by squeezing it out of the skin. Reserve the puree and dispose of the remaining garlic head. Toss bread cubes in a bowl with remaining oil until coated, and pour onto another sheet pan to bake for 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Allow to cool.
Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic purée, and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix in cheese with a spoon.
In an extra large bowl, combine the bread and liquid mixtures. Pour this combination into a casserole. Add the tomatoes, making sure they are scattered equally throughout the pan, pressing each down gently into the mixture. Adjust over temperature to 350°F. Bake 50 to 60 minutes till slightly browned.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Cindy Hartog of Cindy’s Sous Chefs LLC.

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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