10 Ways to Make a Turkey-Free Meal for Thanksgiving

Tired of turkey? Are you looking for something different to serve on Thanksgiving? Maybe you have guests who aren’t fond of turkey or who have more adventurous palates and yearn to eat something new. The purpose of the holiday is to gather, be thankful and share a festive meal. Read on to choose a main dish that will make your gathering into a proper feast. Your thankful guests will delight in these alternatives – from ham and duck to cassoulet and venison, and more in between.

Be sure to shop dartagnan.com for all your holiday meal needs.

1. Traditional Ham

Everyone loves ham! Our Berkshire-breed hams are available in several sizes to suit the needs of your gathering – including the convenient spiral ham featured in the photo below. Our hams begin with Berkshire hogs raised humanely on small family farms dedicated to traditional methods. Smoked over real wood and made all naturally without the usual additives, this is old-fashioned, full-flavored ham as it should be.

Try our Pomegranate Brown Sugar Glazed Spiral Ham recipe.

2. The Super Chicken: Capon

Try roasting a capon, smaller than a turkey, but larger than a chicken and voted most popular poultry by Italian and French families who center their holidays around these tender, richly flavored birds. While you can roast a capon, you might also stuff it with foie gras and cook it au pot style, for savory results.


3. Game for Venison

Venison was most likely on the menu at the original feast of Thanksgiving. With rich red meat full of iron, zinc and other vitamins, venison is leaner than beef and quite flavorful. Venison also pairs well with the vegetables of the season: squash, pumpkin, chard, turnips, and any kind of potato. An oven-roasted venison rib rack looks beautiful on a platter, and loin of venison will feed a good-sized group.

Cervena Venison Rack

4. Special Occasion Duck Breast

For many, duck is a special occasion meal. They may not realize how easy it is to cook duck breast! Use that to your advantage with this pretty David Tanis recipe that serves 12. Muscovy duck breasts are seasoned with crushed peppercorns, allspice, and juniper berries while sweet baked figs make the perfect accompaniment  – and look especially festive on the table.


5. Go for the Goose

The goose is the bird of first choice for special occasions in Europe. Why not make it yours for Thanksgiving? Perfect for roasting, the goose offers dark meat and a distinctive flavor that pairs well with fruits of the season.

Our recipe for Alsatian-style roasted goose with foie gras and chestnuts is quite festive.

6. Classic Comfort with Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child would be proud of you for serving this. Our classic beef Bourguignon is surprisingly easy to make with Angus boneless short ribs, plenty of aromatics, exotic mushrooms, and French pancetta. This is a traditional and warming recipe that will serve 6, but it’s easy to adjust for more guests. Serve with warm crusty bread and a bottle of your favorite red wine.


7. Succulent Porcelet

Exclusively available at D’Artagnan, Porcelet is the pork equivalent to veal; milk-fed piglets that offer succulent pork unlike any other. Our 8-Hour Porcelet Shoulder with Crackling makes an impressive main course and is fairly hands-off (no basting!). Once you put it in a low oven, you can focus attention on other dishes and details.


8. Glorious Game Birds

We are going broad with this category, with everything from Guinea hen to pheasant, and even our exclusive Rohan duck. What’s great about smaller birds is they take less time to roast, and you can often serve one per diner, making each plate its own Thanksgiving meal. Try our exclusive jumbo French quailsquab, or even wild Scottish game birds for those with a taste for game meat.

French Quail Cooked Deana Sidney Photo.jpg

9. Luscious Leg of Lamb

Truly fit to be the centerpiece of a dinner party, leg of lamb is easy to prepare. Rub with herbs and pop in the oven, basting a few times. You’ll end up with a gorgeous centerpiece roast that will draw oohs and aahs. Our Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb with Port Wine Truffle Sauce recipe adds a fancy – but easy – sauce to add to the festivities.

Salt Meadow Lamb Italienne NYC CROP
Whole roasted leg of Salt Meadow Lamb at Italienne in NYC.

10. One-Pot Party: Cassoulet

This classic dish of preserved duck, sausage and beans is the very soul of traditional Gascon cooking. A cassoulet is often the center of a party in Southwest France, and it will definitely liven up your Thanksgiving meal. This convivial dish is perfect for sharing with family or friends (along with robust red wine), and you need very little in the way of side dishes. A salad should suffice. Our cassoulet recipe kit is available in two sizes that serve 6 or 12.

Cassoulet for 4 in Pot

Are you going traditional with a turkey this year? Or do you prefer to shake things up at Thanksgiving? Tell us more about your plans right here.

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at dartagnan.com, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.

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