Holiday alternatives to turkey

by Thomas Warner Contributing writer

If it seems like each holiday meal has become repetitive or if you simply want to try something a little different for your next big gathering, here a few recipes that can be used as alternatives to the standard turkey dinner. Turkey is traditional and maintains a familiarity with many of those who love to cook, but mixing things up can spark interest when families and friends gather during the holidays and can also be a source of good memories to reflect on in later years.

Lemon Pepper Mackerel

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 8

  • 3 large mackerel fish
  • 2 tablespoons butter with infused basil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning, mixed with crushed peppercorns
  • 1 jar hollandaise sauce

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse the fish and pat dry before lying them side-by-side on metal or glass baking trays.

Spread butter evenly over both sides of each of the fish, then hand-sprinkle the lemon pepper mix atop both of the buttered sides of the fish.

Place fish in the oven and bake 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and liberally spread the hollandaise sauce onto both sides.

Replace in the oven and continue baking at 350 F for 20 more minutes.

(Recipe submitted by Cindy Warner, New Orleans, Louisiana)

Chuck Roast

Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours, once thawed

Servings: 8

  • 5-pound roast
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 potatoes, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped

Thaw and/or let roast set in a refrigerator for at least 24 hours, then set out for 30 minutes prior to preparation.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carve small slices into the meat all around the exterior. Stuff each slit with pieces of chopped garlic. The garlic should be distributed evenly around and throughout the expanse of the roast.

Once the meat is cut and infused with the garlic pieces, liberally sprinkle salt and pepper all over the top, then flip it over and do the same to the bottom side.

Flip the roast back upright and prepare to bake by placing inside a roasting bag. The roast can be cooked without a bag, but using one will create a gravy juice that can be poured over the meat when serving.

Inside the bag, sprinkle a few rosemary sprigs all around the meat and add the cut potatoes and carrots before sealing the package.

If you don’t use a roasting bag, simply follow the same steps and cook instead in the roasting pan.

Place the roast in the oven. Using a meat thermometer to check temperature, bake the roast until the temperature of the middle of the roast is 160 F, approximately 1 to 2 hours.

(Recipe submitted by Erica Holloway, Collinsville, Mississippi)

Spiraled Ham

Start to finish: 2 hours

Servings: 8

  • 5-pound spiraled ham
  • 1/4 cup cloves, ground or diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pineapples, sliced and circular

Heath the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the ham in a baking pan and put scattered cloves inside the various layers of the spiraled ham. Next, sprinkle brown sugar on top of the ham and pat all over the surface.

Open the can of pineapple and pour the juice all across the entire ham, including into the various layers. Then cover the ham with the whole pineapple slices.

Cook for 60 to 90 minutes, turning and basting periodically while it cooks so the ham doesn’t dry out.

(Recipe submitted by Judi Vlassis, Santa Cruz, California)

Cornish Game Hens

Start to finish: 2 hours

Servings: 8

  • 4 cornish game hens
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the hens well in a sink and pat dry with a paper towel. Hens need to be dried well before other ingredients are applied.

Rub or brush each hen with olive oil. Sprinkle a light covering of seasoned salt, followed by salt, pepper and garlic powder, sparingly. Be sure to turn the birds over during preparation to ensure full covering with all the seasonings.

Cook for approximately 70 to 90 minutes, checking to ensure the birds are cooking through completely and are not overcooking.

(Recipe submitted by Lauren Reeves, San Antonio, Texas)