Raise your hand if you love Thanksgiving, but hate turkey. Many people roast a big bird every year for holiday tradition and end up with tons of leftovers. Turkey tends to be dry (even the dark meat). Farmers treat birds with steroids and growth hormones to get monster gobbler. "Self-basting" birds are injected with chemicals and trans fats. Two turkey perks are the price wars and weight loss benefits. So if you love Turkey Day and but find the fowl foul, here are alternative game bird options with Christmas holiday recipes.

What's the big gobble about Thanksgiving turkey?

It's mostly the U.S. that elevates turkey to cult status. Other countries use different traditional game birds. Historically, turkey may not even have been served at the first Thanksgiving. But you can't deny those prices. So snag a turkey for $.50 a pound, and freeze leftovers. Then you won't have to eat it until Christmas. Slice turkey breast for sandwiches (serve with cranberries and greens. Make low-calorie turkey roll-ups wrapping leftover mashed cauliflower or potatoes, salad, sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes or stuffing in meat. Omit bread to make it gluten-free.

Clucking about Cornish game hens

Cornish Game Hen are delicious little game birds resemble miniature chickens and are served one whole bird per diner.

The Cornish game hen has moist, delicate, buttery sweet flesh. Purchase game hens frozen in a two-bird pack for under $5 in most grocery stores. Baste with a blend of spray butter or olive oil (for dieters), Better-Than Bouillon without MSG chicken broth, onion, sage, oregano, celery seed, garlic, and pepper. Serve with cranberry-walnut dressing (cut bread and substitute nuts).

The quack about Duck

Ducks are larger than chickens and smaller than turkeys. Their flesh is rich, moist and dark and the drippings make a delicious gravy. You can find frozen duckling in the same freezer case as turkey. Melt orange marmalade in the microwave, baste and roast. Or use orange juice and honey to cut calories. Stuff with rice dressing (onion, celery, rice, and sausage).

Serve this holiday treat with a salad garnished with mandarin oranges, preserved lemon and lime.

Duck, duck, goose

Goose is more difficult to find for Thanksgiving but can be pre-ordered from a butcher or poulterer. The goose is generally as large as a turkey, but the flesh is richer. It's the traditional bird for European Christmas feasts and can be used in recipes as turkey. Try an oyster dressing in this game bird (onion, celery, bread cubes, butter, chopped oysters).

Pleasantly pheasant

For a rare treat, enjoy pheasant, quail or sage grouse. These are smaller with rich flesh, like the Cornish Hen. All are freakishly expensive, so find a hunter to nab you one. Roast with care as the meat is delicate.

Season pheasant with herbed chestnut stuffing recipes using rye bread cubes. Or try Jager--not the booze--this is German "hunter" or mushroom stuffing.

Don't chicken out

How about roasting chicken for the holidays? Chicken is easy to stuff and makes a delicious alternative to turkey. Rub with butter and season with sage, rosemary, onion, sea salt, garlic, paprika, oregano, black pepper and celery seed. Stuff with cheese dressing: sourdough bread, grated cheddar and Parmesan cheese, feta or bleu chunks, garlic, minced onion, and parsley. Be sure to let the skin crisp for the last few minutes of cooking. Leftover chicken can be used in all recipes that call for turkey.


Try venison, lamb, pork or beef roast for a completely bird-free Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Roast a whole pork loin or try a standing rib roast, leg of lamb or venison roast. Try jalapeno-grape-cornbread stuffing, mixing chopped jalapenos, grapes, almonds, onions and celery with day-old cornbread cubes. Make a German jager gravy. Saute fresh mushroom slices in chopped garlic, leeks, onion and shallots. Add dissolved French onion soup and capers. Thicken with cornstarch.