Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends, but it doesn’t have to mean the same old menu every year.
Some people are spicing up their holiday with dishes that are far from the usual turkey and cranberry sauce.
Whether it’s Hockey Pucks, Spanakopita, or chicken wings, here are some of the non-traditional feasts that are making Thanksgiving more fun and flavorful this year.
‘Hockey Pucks’ stuffing
One of the most beloved Thanksgiving dishes is stuffing, or dressing, depending on where you’re from.
It’s hard to resist the combination of bread, sausage, and veggies baked inside a turkey. But have you ever tried making it differently?
Patrick Paterson of Exeter, said his mom has a unique recipe for what they call “Hockey Pucks.”
“You cook up a big box of stuffing and dish the soft mix out onto a cookie sheet and bake them at like 400 for 20 minutes or so,” he explained. “It makes these crispy little handheld stuffing bites.”
Paterson said “Hockey Pucks” is “always a big hit” in his household.
A full-on vegan Thanksgiving feast
Trevor Naglewas of Exeter was a “full-blown traditional Thanksgiving turkey eater” until about 11 years ago. That is when he made the switch to veganism.
He went “cold turkey” – no pun intended – and never looked back.
So, what would a vegan cook for Thanksgiving dinner? Simple, a vegan turkey of course.
Vegan turkey, known as seitan turkey, is made from flavored wheat gluten. Nagle said he mixes wheat gluten flour with nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, soy sauce (or tamari), and other spices before boiling it for 30 minutes. He then puts it into the oven for another 30 minutes.
“Now, it isn’t fooling anyone into thinking it’s turkey, but the taste and texture is similar to a poultry-esque flavor,” he explained. “It’s really all about the seasonings.”
Contrary to popular belief, Nagle said cooking a vegan Thanksgiving dinner is “considerably shorter” timewise than a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“The bulk of the time needed for a traditional Thanksgiving involves turkey cooking time, and for cooking a vegan roast (there are various kinds) takes probably an hour or 90 mins at most,” he said. “Everything else within our vegan Thanksgiving really is pretty much the same as types of dishes that one would cook traditionally… we just use only plant-based ingredients (Earth Balance instead of Butter, vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, etc.).”
My big Greek Thanksgiving
For Exeter resident Christine Coronis, whose husband is Greek, Thanksgiving is the perfect time for a traditional meal, Greek food that is. One of the dishes the Coronis planned on having is Spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie.
Made with filo (or phyllo) dough, the pie is filled with a mixture of spinach, feta cheese as well as other herbs and seasoning. After being baked for an hour in a 325-degree oven, all you get is a melty, gooey deliciousness inside a golden crispy crust. No wonder it’s one of the most popular Greek dishes around!
If you want to go the extra mile like Coronis, serve it up with Loukaniko, a Greek sausage made from pork or lamb, flavored with orange peel, fennel seed, and other dried herbs and sometimes smoked over aromatic woods.
Greek native and Exeter resident Kathy Chrissis also plans on making Spanakopita and Fasolakia, Greek green beans with lemon or tomato sauce. On her dessert table, Chrissis said aside from the traditional pumpkin pie, she is also planning to bake Galopita, a Greek custard pie.
Tired of turkey? How about lamb?
Another person planning a Mediterranean meal is Lucy Albert, who will be cooking for her three sons and their friends when they come up to Exeter this Thanksgiving. Her main dish, she said, will be lamb tagine.
This super lengthy – but worth it – meal could take up to four hours to cook and includes almost everything you see on the spice aisle at the grocery store. But after the wait is over, this dish is for those who want to impress – think rich, complex flavor profiles and fork-tender lamb shoulder.
All that spice will make your house smell amazing, leaving your neighbors to question if they have missed out on a great dinner meal. For a Moroccan twist, serve your lamb tagine over couscous.
Winner, winner wings for dinner
Matthew Phillips’ idea of a perfect Thanksgiving dinner is with a different type of bird instead of turkey – one that costs less, is easier to cook, and is a crowd favorite all year round.
“For the last three years we’ve done chicken wings on the grill — three kinds (Buffalo, Teriyaki and Maple Sriracha), all of which can kick a turkey’s butt on their own,” said the Exeter resident.
Although he said that he likes the usual Thanksgiving staples (stuffing, gravy, and turkey), he said the whole preparation is a “tremendous pain” to deal with. After you have the same leftovers for days, which makes him not want to eat it again for a year, he added.
Phillips said Thanksgiving dinner in his household is treated as a “big regular dinner.”
“It’s about coming together as a family — or a de facto family — to give thanks for family, friends, and what we have,” he said, referring to what Thanksgiving means to him.
What are some of your non-traditional meals that you like to cook and/or have during Thanksgiving? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll update the list.