Let’s Kick Things Up This Year



It’s a word that looms large in many families. Cries of, “But what do you mean you added HERBS to the mashed potatoes?” can echo through the halls at the merest hint that something about the holidays Might Change.

But you know what?

This year, we say to those fervent traditionalists: We’re doing things a new way. (And, to you, we say buy some earplugs because those traditionalists will be dragged toward a new food horizon, kicking and screaming all the way, and you only get one set of eardrums, so you want to take care of them, you know?)

So. What does that new way look like?

Well, that’s the beauty of it: you are free to do A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G you want for your holiday main course. In honor of this occasion, we rewrote a little Dr. Seuss (from the classic, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!) for you—feel free to recite it to any stubborn family members who give you a hard time about New Recipes:

I have brains in my head.

I have feet in my shoes.

I can steer myself

Toward any recipe I choose.

I’m on my own

When it comes to prepping this meat.

And I am the one who’ll decide what we eat!

That’s right! YOU are the holiday food decision maker here! If you want to kick things up, then things will be kicked straight into Flavor Town! So let’s talk options.

First up, we’ve got some suggestions on ways to make turkey seem fresh and interesting this holiday season, especially on the heels of just enjoying it for Thanksgiving. First, though, you may want to check out these tips on selecting your turkey. All those different labels (fresh, frozen, self-basting, deep-chilled…) can be confusing!

Once you have your turkey selected, it’s time to think outside the box as far as preparation.

How about a turkey that’s basted IN CHAMPAGNE?Doesn’t that sound decadent? This recipe promises crisp skin, juicy meat, and a light flavor, and if champagne straight from France is outside your budget, any dry sparkling white wine can be substituted. Find the Champagne-Basted Turkey recipe from Fine Cooking here. Champagne too fancy for you? How about a beer-braised turkey? This recipe combines a healthy portion of stout beer with dark brown sugar and molasses to make a brine that will have you salivating.

So those are some different flavors to incorporate into your meal. Now how about some unique preparation options?

This Smoked Beer-Can Turkey recipe definitely fits that description! Brined and then rubbed in spices, this turkey has a smoky taste that you’ll love. If you decide to go this route, just keep in mind the number of people you are serving and the size of the bird you’ll need.

This recipe is designed for a 12-14 pound turkey, which can comfortably serve 8-10 people. If you’re expecting a larger crowd, this method of preparation plus trying to arrange a huge, 25 pound turkey vertically inside your grill might not be compatible. In which case, you may want to break out your big giant fryer and try deep-frying your turkey!

One of the major benefits of deep-frying (in addition to that crackling skin) is that the turkey cooks FAST. No getting up at 5am to put the turkey in the oven if you go with this option! This Louisiana-Style Deep-Fried Turkey recipe from Fine Cooking has a small ingredients list but promises big flavor.

Turkey is certainly a classic holiday meat choice, but there are plenty of other meats you can get snazzy with this holiday season. If a whole beef tenderloin sounds more like your cup of tea (or, more accurately, your cut of meat), try adding a coffee crust.

This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens also suggests ways to vary the recipe to reflect your own tastes (or, you know, to help you through that moment when you KNOW you had garlic powder in the cupboard yesterday, but now, the moment that you NEED IT, it has DISAPPEARED).

Planning to go with the Hostess’s Best Friend option?

(That is what I call ham. Because it is a hostess’s best friend. Often pre-cooked and able to be served hot or cold, ham is perfect for stress-free feeding of a big crowd.)

Try adding unique condiments or an out of the ordinary glaze to spice things up. Spiral-slicing makes this meal option even easier—check out our spiral-sliced Applewood Smoked Ham with a Honey Glaze here.

Want to get really fancy?

Try a Berkshire Pork French Rack Roast. This cut of meat may be kicked up enough for you and your family all on its own this year, so we’ve got two methods of preparation for you.

First, a simple way to make this is to use a dry rub (any flavors that strike your fancy!) with a reverse sear method of preparation. Reverse searing cooks the meat on a low temperature to get all the way to the center without any risk of overcooking the outer layers of meat. Here’s a how-to for that option.

Want to get even fancier? This recipe from Epicurious calls for juniper berries, Turkish bay leaves, a mortar and pestle, and five days of brining! This recipe may be a bit on the, shall we say, high-maintenance side, but who are we to stand in the way of your ambitions so you can find the recipe here.

With all these options, the toughest decision you’ll have to make this holiday season is deciding which recipe to go with. But once you make that decision, you’ll get to bask in the glory of everyone LOVING your kicked up holiday main course. And then you can look forward to enjoying a whole year of telling those traditionalists, “I told you so.”

Do you have a kicked up holiday recipe that’s a little untraditional? We want to hear about it! Share your recipes with us in the comments section below.

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