3 Alternative Birds Worthy of the Thanksgiving Centerpiece

3 Alternative Birds worthy of the Thanksgiving centerpiece

Alternatives for the turkey & tofurkey haters


Bethany Rae, November 19 , 2019

Turkey plays a huge role in a traditional American Thanksgiving celebration. It’s often assumed that the modern menu originated from the country’s “first Thanksgiving”…but historians believe there is a good chance turkey wasn’t served. The famous meal, shared between Native Americans and European Pilgrims in 1621, likely featured deer and geese. Turkeys were certainly plentiful (an estimated 10 million in America at the arrival of the Europeans) and, over time, definitely became a symbol of holiday meals. Typically, farms had a turkey to spare (unlike cows and chickens which were kept for milk and eggs), and a single turkey could be counted on to feed an entire family. To this day, a Thanksgiving turkey dinner is American commonplace; But nearly 400 years of the same grub can get a little…boring. If you’re ready to mix things up, Northern Fork fully supports the road less traveled. In fact, we’ll give you a few ideas.

So you’re tired of turkey but don’t necessarily think fowl is foul. Here are a few feathered options that could be a welcome departure from the usual boring bird.


To aid in buoyancy, waterfowl have higher amount of skin fat…which, of course, naturally bastes the duck in the oven.  Between that and its larger “dark meat” content, you should expect a bird that is considerably more moist and flavorful. That dark meat ratio also means you’re less likely to overcook your bird. And speaking of cooking: ducks are smaller than turkeys, so they’re going to cook much faster. Quicker to the table? Sign us up.

Consider duck a rich and succulent addition to your holiday table.

{Here is a recipe from Julia’s Album}


Pheasants are a small game bird. Similar to chicken, they run about 2-4 pounds each, but they are much leaner and lower in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than their clucky counterpart. They also tend to be raised on smaller, specialized farms…treated much differently than birds bred for mass-production.  A more farm-to-table experience? We’re in.

Consider pheasants a healthier bird alternative to your holiday table.

{Here is a recipe from Honest Food}


A pear tree, sure, but what about your dining room table? Partridges run about 1 pound each, therefore are perfect for smaller families who want  to serve an individual bird per person. And, because of their size, a partridge is going to roast in under 30 minutes. Curious about the taste? Imagine a pasture-raised chicken. The flavor is very similar…plus they, too, have white meat breasts with dark meat legs and thighs. Everyone’s very own roasted bird? Yes please.

Consider partridges an elegant addition to your holiday table.

{Here is a recipe from Cooks.com}


If branching out means beyond the bird, Food and Wine offers some meat and fish recipes you’re sure to love. {They run a Thanksgiving main course alternatives article annually.}

Honey-bourbon Glazed Ham : “The sweet, sticky glaze on this juicy ham is subtly spiced with fennel, coriander and star anise.”

Spiced Coriander and Mustard-Crusted Rib Roast of Beef : “A spice grinder is a key tool, because freshly ground spices have the most vibrant flavor. The spice crust on this roast is peppery, fragrant and so delicious you’ll want to pick it off and eat it while the roast rests.”

Slow-Cooked Sweet and Sour Pork Shoulder : “Inspired by the retro combination of ham and pineapple, Jean-Georges Vongerichten created this twist by mixing the pineapple with vinegar for a sweet-sour effect, and marinating pork shoulder with hot paprika and Sriracha chile sauce. “Chile is my condiment of choice: A little here, a little there, makes the food sing,” he says.”

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Herb-and-Pomegranate Raita : “It’s worth a little bit of extra effort to toast and grind the spices for this salmon, because it adds so much additional flavor. The spice mix is also good on pork and beef.”


Strictly vegetarian or vegan? Check out this article from Refinery29: Vegetarians and Vegans Share the Best Turkey Alternatives to Try this Thanksgiving. They asked, and their readers answered with their favorite turkey alternative brands.


If you’re not up for cooking or just need tasty menu inspo, Nothernfork.com is always the perfect place to start. Happy eating!








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