Some Turkey Alternatives For Thanksgiving

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Non-traditional Thanksgiving meals are gaining popularity. Joining us today to share some twists on the traditional turkey roast are three well-known Boston area foodies.

This is a rebroadcast of a conversation which originally aired November 21, 2012.


Amy Traverso, senior lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine and author of “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook." She tweets @amytraverso.

Michael Leviton, chef and former owner of Lumiere in Newton.

Brian Van Etten, chef at Roots Catering in Rochester, N.Y., and formerly the head chef at Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge. He tweets @brianvanetten.

Dry cured turkey (Heath Robbins/Yankee Magazine)
Dry cured turkey (Heath Robbins/Yankee Magazine)

Dry-Cured Turkey

Courtesy of Amy Traverso
From Yankee Magazine, November 2012

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Start to Finish Time: 3 days
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

  • 2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt (Note: The amount of salt you use depends on the size of your turkey. Use 2-1/2 tablespoons if your bird is 13 pounds; 3 tablespoons if it’s in the 14- to 15-pound range.)
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried crumbled sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 13- to 15-pound fresh (untreated) turkey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large firm-tart apple, such as ‘Granny Smith’ or ‘Northern Spy’ (unpeeled), cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium turkey or chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup medium-sweet hard cider, such as Harpoon brand
  • Garnishes (optional): ‘Pink Lady’ apples, lemon leaves


  1. Three days before you plan to roast the turkey, put salt, rosemary, thyme, sage, mustard seeds, and pepper in a spice grinder and pulse together until they form a fine powder.
  2. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Sprinkle outside of turkey all over with two-thirds of spice mixture, concentrating on breast and thighs. Toss remaining spices into cavity. Cover turkey with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator 3 days. For extra-crisp skin, remove plastic wrap the night before roasting.
  3. To roast, preheat oven to 425° F. Set a V-shaped roasting rack into a large roasting pan and set aside. Gently separate skin from breast meat on both sides so that you can get your hand all the way in, being careful not to tear the skin. Rub 3 tablespoons butter onto breast meat on both sides. Brush skin all over with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Put apple and onion pieces in turkey cavity. Set turkey, breast side down, onto roasting rack. Pour broth and cider into bottom of pan and put in oven. Roast 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Flip bird over; then roast, basting occasionally, until thickest part of breast to the bone reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer, another 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours, depending on size of bird.
  4. Tip turkey to drain cavity juices, and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter. Tent with foil and let sit 30 minutes while you make gravy. Garnish turkey with apples and lemon leaves if you like; then carve and serve.
Brussels sprouts (Keenan Loo/Unsplash)
Brussels sprouts (Keenan Loo/Unsplash)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With “Goodies”

Courtesy of Brian Van Etten


  • 4 lbs brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 lbs chorizo, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 shallots, peeled, halved, & sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili flake, any variety
  • kosher salt
  • coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced


  1. In a large pot, fill with heavily salted water, leaving enough room for brussels to be added. Water should taste like the ocean. Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, gather a 8 quarts of ice water.
  3. When water boils, add brussels, cooking for 45 seconds, and not one second longer. Drain water, and shock brussels in ice bath. When brussels are adequately chilled, drain and dry in a colander.
  4. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  5. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.
  6. Add diced chorizo, cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Add shallot and garlic, toss to coat in oil and fat from chorizo. Cook 2 minutes longer.
  8. Add brussels, cut side down, and season entire pan liberally with salt and pepper. Add chili flake.
  9. Roast entire pan in the oven for 10 minutes, until cut side of brussels are charred. Return pan to burner, on high, and saute 4 minutes longer, until leaves from brussels are browned. Remove from heat.
  10. Toss brussels in lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.

Fried Turkey>/h3>
Courtesy of Michael Leviton
Note: Serious Eats has "pretty much the definitive volume on turkey frying."

1 12 pound turkey, giblets removed, patted dry (for safety reasons, I suggest not going much larger than that with a standard 18 pound outdoor turkey fryer)
1.5 gallons of water
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 to 4 gallons of oil

  1. Mix salt and water and salt in a large crock or food-grade plastic bucket. Immerse turkey in brine. Refrigerate for 48-hours.
  2. Remove turkey from brine. Pat dry.
  3. Heat oil to 350 degrees in deep fryer.
  4. Gently place turkey in hot oil, closely following manufacturer's instructions about safety and oil levels. (Safety tip: shut off fuel while placing turkey in oil to prevent dangerous fire if oil spills over edge)
  5. Cook about 3 1/2 minutes per pound.
  6. Remove turkey. Let turkey rest 30 minutes before carving and serving.

This segment aired on November 24, 2016.



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