Thanks to the availability of vaccinations and lower rates of the Covid-19 virus in many areas, this Thanksgiving is shaping up to at least be better than last year. But now there’s a pesky new problem that’s looming—the possibility of a turkey shortage. As with many foods and other product shortages in recent months, insufficient labor, transportation issues, and increased costs are causing a lack of availability of the Thanksgiving holiday’s favorite birds. Shortages are affecting smaller frozen turkeys and fresh varieties the most.
With many families choosing to host smaller holiday gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic, leading turkey supplier Shady Brook Farms has warned that the higher demand for smaller turkeys may not be met this year. Unfortunately, spiral hams are also in scarce supply right now. If you are lucky enough to find a smaller bird for your gathering, expect to pay much higher prices this year. Plan to buy your smaller turkey early—if you wait until the week of Thanksgiving, you may not be able to find one.
If you can’t find a smaller turkey for your gathering, don’t panic! There are several creative and just as delicious alternatives to turkey that you can serve for your Thanksgiving celebration.
Cornish hens will be much easier to find and are a fun alternative to turkey because it’s like each guest gets their own little mini turkey on his/her plate. You can stuff them with your favorite dressing, or you can even customize each one to each guest’s preference.
Serve the traditional bird but in a non-traditional way. Think of it as a blank canvas for incorporating a variety of delicious ingredients, such as a ground turkey meatloaf with sundried tomatoes or dried cranberries. Try this creative turkey meatloaf recipe for something different this year.
Chicken Pot Pie
The meat doesn’t always have to be the main dish, even at Thanksgiving. It can be mixed in with other ingredients like in a chicken pot pie or Shepherd’s pie. These alternatives are much more affordable but still make an elegant main dish, and you can enjoy them with classic Thanksgiving side dishes.
Roast duck is a great alternative to turkey. It’s a rich meat, and a little goes a long way. Traditional duck a l’orange pairs nicely with Thanksgiving favorites like roasted sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes. Or if you want a break from cooking, many Chinese restaurants specialize in Peking Duck that you can buy already prepared and serve with your favorite side dishes.
Roasted tenderloin cooks fast and looks festive on a Thanksgiving table sliced on a platter with roasted vegetables. This classic recipe is a good choice for the holidays.