Years of experimenting with brines, roasting techniques, and various passing fads has made one thing clear: Making a juicy Thanksgiving turkey can be tricky. So for the turkey weary, here are a few options that trade the bird for a simpler, maybe tastier, centerpiece dish. A couple of spatchcocked chickens will easily feed a large family; we slather ours with a mango chutney glaze boosted with turmeric and ground ginger. An Instant Pot makes quick work of a horseradish-spiked Austrian pot roast, which cooks with carrots, parsnips, and potatoes for a nearly complete meal. And we top spice-crusted salmon fillets with an easy chili walnut sauce. But because fish can quickly overcook, we sear it on just one side, then finish cooking with just the gentle, residual heat.
Austrian Pot-Roasted Beef With Root Vegetables
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Don’t worry if the vegetables aren’t fully tender after pressure cooking (you should be able to easily insert a skewer or the tip of a paring knife). If needed, select More/High Sauté and simmer them for a few more minutes until done, then press Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.
2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths, thicker pieces halved lengthwise
6 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 6-inch lengths, thicker pieces halved lengthwise
1 4½- to 5-pound boneless beef chuck roast, pulled apart at the natural seams into 3 pieces, trimmed, each piece tied at 1-inch intervals
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 pounds red potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), halved
3 dill sprigs, plus ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
Prepared horseradish and/or Dijon mustard, to serve
On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering, then stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and golden brown at the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 4 pieces each of carrot and parsnip, then nestle in the beef. Add the broth, bay, caraway, allspice, thyme, and 1 tablespoon pepper.
OPTION 1: FAST
Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then press Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 1 hour. When pressure-cooking is complete, allow the pressure to reduce naturally for 25 minutes, then release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
OPTION 2: SLOW
With the pot still on More/High Sauté, bring the mixture to a boil. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place, and move the pressure valve to Venting. Select Slow Cook and set the temperature to More/High. Set the cooking time for 10 to 11 hours; the stew is done when a skewer inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
Transfer the beef to a cutting board and tent with foil. Using potholders, carefully remove the insert from the housing and pour the broth into a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl; discard the solids in the strainer. Use a wide spoon to skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then return the liquid to the pot. Add the remaining carrots, the remaining parsnips, and the potatoes, distributing them evenly.
Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 7 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large platter and tent with foil. Add the dill sprigs to the cooking liquid. Cut the meat against the grain into ½-inch slices, removing the twine as you go. Place the slices on the platter with the vegetables.
Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the dill sprigs, then ladle about 1 cup of the broth over the meat and sprinkle with the chopped dill. Serve with the remaining broth on the side and with horseradish and/or mustard.
Chutney-Glazed Spatchcocked Chicken
Makes 4 servings
Spatchcocking a chicken — that is, cutting out its backbone and opening up and flattening the bird — allows for even browning and relatively quick cooking because all of the meat is on the same plane. If your mango chutney is especially chunky, mash it with a fork or spoon to break up any large pieces. The glaze mixture does double duty here — a portion is set aside for combining with cilantro and lemon juice just before serving to make a sauce to serve at the table. An herb-ed grain pilaf or steamed basmati rice is a perfect accompaniment.
Take extra care not to cross-contaminate the glaze. A portion of the glaze is brushed onto the raw chicken; the remainder is applied after 40 minutes of roasting. To prevent cross-contamination, make sure to separate the glaze into two separate bowls and to wash the brush after the first glazing.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ cup mango chutney (see headnote)
1 4-pound whole chicken
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more as needed
Heat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a wire rack on top. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the chutney. Measure 3 tablespoons of the mixture into each of 2 small bowls to use for glazing; set the remaining mixture aside in the saucepan, covered, for making the sauce.
Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, end to end; remove and discard the backbone (or save it to make broth). Spread open the chicken, then turn it breast up. Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast, until the wishbone snaps. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season on all sides with salt and pepper. Place skin side up on the prepared rack and brush evenly with the chutney mixture from one of the small bowls. Roast for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the brush.
Remove the chicken from the oven and, using the clean brush, apply the chutney mixture from the second bowl. Continue to roast until the thighs reach 175 degrees, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
While the chicken rests, set the saucepan with the chutney mixture over heat set at medium-low, stirring, until just warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cilantro and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, if needed, then transfer to a serving bowl. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.
Pan-Seared Salmon With Red Chili-Walnut Sauce
Makes 4 servings
If you can only find whole fennel seeds, not ground, simply whirl ½ teaspoon whole seeds in a spice grinder to a fine powder. And try to purchase fillets of the same thickness so they cook at the same rate.
Warming the skillet over medium-high heat, then lowering the temperature once the salmon is in the pan, ensures a nice sear without the risk of scorching. And finishing the cooking off heat, using just the pan’s residual warmth, ensures the fish stays moist and won’t overcook.
Make sure the salmon fillets go in the skillet flesh side down, and leave them as is once they’re in. Cooking them undisturbed allows the fish to develop flavorful browning.
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
4 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (each 1- to 1¼-inches thick), patted dry
¼ cup walnuts
2 Fresno chilies, stemmed and quartered
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 plum tomato, cored and quartered
¼ cup drained roasted red bell peppers, patted dry
1 tablespoon grape-seed or other neutral oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, mustard, fennel, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season the flesh side of the salmon fillets with 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the remaining spice mixture, the walnuts, chilies, garlic, tomato, and roasted peppers. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, 10 to 15 pulses, scraping down the bowl as needed.
In a nonstick, 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Place the salmon flesh side down in the pan, then immediately reduce to medium heat. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets, then cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let stand until the thickest parts of the fillets reach 120 degrees or are nearly opaque when cut into, about another 5 minutes for 1-inch-thick fillets or about 8 minutes if 1¼-inches thick. Transfer the salmon to a platter.
Return the skillet to heat set at medium-high and add the walnut-chili puree. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid released by puree has evaporated and the sauce is thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the sauce on top of each fillet, then serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.