Give the Bird a Break: Holiday Main Dishes That Aren’t Turkey

The history of the holiday turkey is as short as it is mundane.

In the 16th century in England, King Henry VIII decided that turkey would be the perfect main dish for Christmas and everyone decided to follow suit.

Since this was over 400 years ago, there’s no shame in giving the bird a break this holiday season!

But before you panic over the idea of ditching turkey at Christmastime, we’ve put together a list of 10 amazing and delicious alternatives you can delight your guests with during the holidays:

Roasted or Grilled Salmon

You can give all poultry a break this holiday season by opting to serve a delicious salmon dish instead! 

Marinated and grilled salmon is a delicious choice - use lemongrass, coriander, ginger, and garlic to give this dish a savoury taste. The salmon fillet is marinated in soy sauce, honey, and a variety of spices before being grilled.

You can even roast a whole salmon along with potatoes and carrots. Season the salmon with thyme, rosemary, and garlic before roasting in the oven.

Pork Roast

During the holidays, turkey can be easily substituted with a moist pork roast. Roast your pork in whole-berry cranberry sauce, honey, orange zest, cloves, and nutmeg for a rich and delicious holiday taste!

Or you can prepare a crown pork roast which is both delicious and visually pleasing. Season the roast with paprika, thyme, rosemary, sage, and apples.

Baked Ham

Baked ham is a classic holiday main dish that is often served in lieu of turkey. Glaze your ham with a mixture of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, cumin, and chipotle peppers for a spicy and savoury dish.

Ham is a type of leg cut from pork that is usually preserved either by wet or dry curing. It can be roasted bone-in or out. It has a meaty denseness with an underlying sweetness - which is probably why it tastes delicious with a sweet-tasting glaze!

Glazed Pork Loin

Creating beautiful holiday dishes is all about the perfect glaze!

Cook up a delicious orange-glazed pork loin by seasoning the meat with garlic, theme, and ginger before glazing it with orange juice, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard.

Pork loin, also known as centre loin roast or pork centre rib roast, is a lean and tender cut that is fatty and juicy. Pork chops are a type of pork loin cut but the loin itself can be cooked whole. Look for a boneless roast that is easier to slice after cooking.

Rib Roast

The great thing about doing an entire rib roast for the holidays is that you can season it with simple ingredients and leave it in the oven as you focus on preparing your other holiday dishes!

A simple four-ingredient recipe for rib roast includes finely ground coffee (why not!), salt, black pepper, and vanilla bean.

Prime rib, coffee, and vanilla have a wonderful earthy taste and quality - you may not think they go well together but they are a natural match! Just make sure you rub off the excess coffee from the meat before serving.

You can also prepare your rib roast in a sage jus by cooking it with sprigs of sage and thyme as well as bay leaves, garlic, and one cup of red wine.

Whole Roasted Strip loin

We’ve all heard of the classic New York strip loin but this type of meat provides a beautiful canvas on which to create a holiday masterpiece.

Prepare a strip loin roast beef in your slow cooker along with onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, and mushrooms (a whole meal!). Use red wine, beef broth, garlic, thyme, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste to create a mouth-watering sauce.

You can also give the strip loin a delicious salted butter herb crust using butter, garlic, thyme, black pepper, and sea salt.

Braised Brisket

The word “brisket” just sounds fancy but preparing this delicious meat for the holidays is easy!

Take one beef brisket and braise it with orange juice, onion, chopped dates, cinnamon, garlic, coriander, and cloves to create a beautiful orange-spiced dish.

Even though the brisket is a tough piece of meat that comes from the breast of the cow, it ends up being extremely soft and flavorful when braised, smoked, or slowly roasted. It’s an inexpensive cut that you can add a lot of flavor to!

Beef Tenderloin

Instead of serving turkey this holiday season, present your guests with a garlic and herb beef tenderloin. Simply cook the tenderloin with garlic cloves, salt, pepper, dried basil, and rosemary.

Beef tenderloin is a lean cut and is considered to be the most tender cut of beef. So while they can dry easily if overcooked, these tender steaks cook beautifully in the oven!

Roast Lamb

Did you know that a whole leg of lamb can feed up to eight people? The leg contains lean meat but is fatty enough to remain succulent!

To cook a lamb leg this holiday season, roast it with garlic, oregano, tomato sauce, and artichokes.

You can get really fancy by preparing a pear and pomegranate lamb tagine using lamb shanks instead of the leg. Cook the shank with pears, orange juice, pomegranate juice, and honey along with ground cinnamon, cardamom, and fresh parsley.

Roasted Chicken

Maybe you’re not ready to give all birds a break, so why not serve a delicious roast chicken?

A citrus-herb roast chicken would make for a wonderful holiday main dish. Roast the chicken with garlic, thyme, dill, and rosemary as well as lemon and orange to create this savoury meal.

If you’re able to use the barbecue during the holiday season, consider barbecuing your chicken that has been seasoned with garlic, cayenne, apple juice, apple butter, and barbecue sauce.

Turkeys Rejoice!

These wonderful and delicious main dishes that aren’t turkey are sure to excite your taste buds and impress your guests this holiday season!

When it comes to finding the high-quality meats and best cuts in the Edmonton area, D’Arcy’s Meat Market has you covered!

Come check out our large selection of meats or contact us if you have a special request!

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