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whole roasted duck

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Whole Roast Duck with Potatoes

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10 Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes perfect to serve if you're tired of turkey

While we know many of you couldn't bear to part with tradition, there are all kinds of reasons why you may want to serve something other than turkey come Thanksgiving day. Turkey is, after all, not the most practical protein for small dinners, and it'll never do for vegetarians. No matter the reason, if you're looking to do something different this year, we're here to help.

Here are three great Thanksgiving entrees, with no turkey in sight.

Whole Roast Duck with Potatoes
If you've got a smaller gathering but still love the drama of a whole roasted bird, consider springing for a whole duck. Ducks are even easier — and far faster — to roast than a turkey. We like to roast our duck on top of baby Yukon Gold potatoes so that the savory fat rendering from the bird coats the potatoes, lending them tons of flavor and a beautiful bronzed color. And don't forget to stuff the cavity of the bird with garlic and rosemary to impart even more flavor to the bird and potatoes.
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Stuffed Acorn Squash
Stuffed squash makes for a great vegetable-heavy main dish, and it can be just as elegant has a whole bird. And while we like to use sausage in our stuffed squash, it is quite easy to turn this into a vegetarian entree. Simply substitute one pound of mushrooms, sauteed in butter, for the sausage. We particularly like shiitakes here, but you could also use a mixture of wild mushrooms or cremini mushrooms, cooked until all of their liquid has evaporated. We promise all of your veggie friends will be pleased.
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Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage and Apples
Or if you've got a table for two this year, skip trying to roast a moist turkey breast and instead sear up this easy, one-pan pork tenderloin dish. Tenderloin cooks in minutes, and is even more succulent and flavorful than the best-cooked turkey. While the tenderloin rests, saute up apples and cabbage in the pan drippings for an easy side dish. All you need is mashed potatoes and pie, and your menu is complete.
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cast iron seared filet mignonCast Iron Seared Filet Mignon
If you're skipping turkey this year, another great option for a small crowd is filet mignon. While there are plenty of ways to cook these elegant steaks, searing them in cast iron is probably the best. (Okay, we're biased). The delicious brown crust on the outside and the perfectly cooking juicy center will live your guests with full (and happy) bellies. You can't go wrong when you add a little butter, either.
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cast iron roasted chickenCast Iron Roast Chicken Under a Brick
If you have picky eaters coming to Thanksgiving dinner, you'll want to stick to something simple. Roast chicken is an easy alternative to turkey and will likely suit most palates. You will, however, still be able to impress your guests with your butterflying technique.
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anne byrn's braised pot roast with sweet onion gravyAnne Byrn's Braised Pot Roast with Sweet Onion Gravy
If you're looking for a dish that isn't turkey and isn't too complicated, then this is the roast for you. Anne Byrn's pot roast will do all the work itself on Thanksgiving Day, as long as you allow for the correct amount of time for the beef to slowly cook in the oven. The best part? It's super flexible. If you need more time work on other dishes, turn down the heat and let the pot roast cook a little bit longer. 
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lamb shoulder chopsLamb Shoulder Chops with Garlic and Rosemary
This one is for all the adventurous souls out there on Thanksgiving Day. Lamb shoulder chops can be a delicious, flavorful and affordable option for those who don’t want to break the bank on a full piece of lamb. Make sure to cook your lamb medium-rare or else you run the risk of making the meat dry and grainy. 
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whole roasted snapperWhole Roasted Snapper with Caper Butter Sauce
You'll get so much praise from your guests this year if you decide to make this show-stopping whole roasted snapper, y'all. While this dish seems intimidating, the end result is so worth it. Don't forget to ask your fishmonger to remove the scales, guts and gills as well as trimming the fins before you go home to serve up this delicious dish. 
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lemon-rosemary roasted chickenLemon-Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Arugula
With only a few minutes of prep time, this lemon-rosemary roasted chicken is the perfect recipe for anybody who is a last-minute planner. You'll need to let the chicken marinate for an hour, but this wait is the perfect time to whip up your other dishes for the big meal..
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bourbon baked hamVirginia Willis' Bourbon Baked Ham
While ham is traditionally seen as a Christmas or New Year's Day dish, you can also serve it for Thanksgiving dinner. Virginia Willis' juicy and moist bourbon baked ham is a perfect alternative to (sometimes) dry turkey. You'll want to make sure you get a ham that is "fully cooked," "ready-to-eat" or "heat-and-serve." These hams are wet-cured, meaning that they are submerged in or injected with brine, then smoked and sold fully cooked to be glazed and warmed at home.
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Kate Williams is the editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She is also an on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She has been working in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.

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