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Tired of Turkey: Festive Holiday Alternatives

by Rona Berg
holiday alternative

Tired of turkey? We are, too. Here are delicious holiday alternatives from farm-to-table pioneer and D’Artagnan CEO Ariane Daguin, and chef friends.

Ariane Daguin knows her flock. The French-born CEO of D’Artagnan, top purveyor of all-natural and organic poultry, meat and charcuterie—and supplier to leading chefs and restaurants around the country—was born to gastronomie. Her father, André Daguin, is the renowned chef-owner of the Hotel de France in Auch, Gascony.

Daguin is behind some of the cleanest and tastiest organic, free-range, humanely raised chickens, geese, ducks, pheasants and more, including the newly available Green Circle Heritage chickens. Raised by Amish farmers, these chickens are bred according to centuries-old methods of farming, and fed pesticide-free scraps of vegetables and grain. “You are what you eat,” says Daguin, “and an animal that was respected during its lifespan will always taste better than a factory-farmed one.”

For a holiday menu, turkey can get boring, and it may be impractical if you don’t plan to host a large group. Here are some rough guidelines that will inspire anyone to go off-script: for six to 12 guests, consider a capon or a goose; six to eight, duck legs; four to six, a Rohan duck or a Green Circle Heritage chicken; two to four, a pheasant or duck magret breasts.

D’Artagnan celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with grand fetes in cities around the U.S., and the guest lists are a veritable who’s who of the culinary world. Here, Daguin shares her own delicious holiday recipes with us, along with a few from chef friends.

holiday alternatives

Roast Christmas Goose

from D’Artagnan

This do-ahead method produces a succulent, flavorful bird with crispy skin. After poaching, only a half-hour of high heat roasting is needed before serving.


One 9 to 11 lb goose

3 tablespoons rendered goose fat

1½ cups each coarsely chopped carrots, onions, and celery

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups dry white wine

4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Peelings from 1 green apple (optional)

6 cloves

1 large bay leaf

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, cleaned, and coarsely chopped, liquid strained and reserved

½ cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons Armagnac

1 tablespoon red currant jelly

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Remove giblets and neck from cavity, pull off any loose fat, and cut off first 2 wing joints, if still attached, and reserve. Wash goose, tie legs together, with a fork, prick the goose all over, and set aside.
  2. Put goose fat in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and render about 3 tablespoons of fat. Remove and discard remaining fat (or use later). Add giblets, wing pieces, neck, and vegetables to pan. Sauté until vegetables are browned, about 7 to 8 minutes, turning frequently. Sprinkle on flour, adjust heat to medium, and continue cooking until flour is lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour chicken stock and white wine into a covered roasting dish large enough to hold the goose, and bring to a boil. Add goose, breast side down, pieces of browned goose, and vegetables, parsley, apple peelings, cloves, and bay leaf. Pour in enough water to cover goose by about two-thirds, and bring to a simmer. Whisk a cup of this liquid into the sauté pan, then scrape the thickened liquid back into the roasting pan.
  4. Cover pan and cook very gently, regulating heat, if necessary, to keep it just simmering.
  5. After an hour, turn goose over, being careful not to break the skin. (A pair of rubber gloves is an easy way to do this.) Poach goose a total of 2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off heat and finish immediately, later in the day, or the next day. Recipe may be done ahead to this point.
  6. To finish immediately, preheat oven to 450° F.
  7. Remove goose from liquid, drain, and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until skin is brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Take out of oven, and allow to stand for about 5 to 20 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, skim grease from pan liquid and strain to remove pieces of goose, vegetables, and seasonings. Discard pieces of goose and seasonings. Purée vegetables in a blender or food processor, and add back to pan. Boil quickly to reduce liquid by about half.
  9. Add porcini and soaking liquid, cherries, Armagnac, and red currant jelly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm until needed.
  10. To finish later or the next day, cover pan and set in refrigerator. When ready, remove layer of fat from liquid. Lift out goose and bring liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, then reheat goose in stock for about 10 minutes while preheating oven. Proceed with recipe as above.

holiday alternatives

Goose Liver Mouse

from Chef Mike Friedman of the Red Hen in Washington, DC

It’s a lot easier than you think!

YEILD: 12 small portions

4 Tbsp EVOO

1 lb. goose livers, cleaned

Salt and black pepper, ground

3 ea shallots, chopped

4 ea garlic cloves, minced

3 sprigs thyme

2 cups white wine

8 oz butter, unsalted and cubed

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Season the goose livers with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the EVOO to the hot sauté pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the goose livers CAREFULLY. Cook the livers for 2 minutes, then flip them with tongs.
  4. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half.
  5. Remove the thyme from the pan. Add all the ingredients of the pan into a blender. Carefully turn the blender on and blend until the liver mixture is smooth.
  6. While the blender is on, carefully add the cubes of butter, one at time until they are completely incorporated into the liver.
  7. Empty the contents of the blender into a bowl. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Chill immediately.
  8. Serve the liver mousse with sour cherry preserves and toast.

holiday alternatives

Braised Duck Leg Ragu with Preserved Lemon & Tomatoes

from Chef Mike Friedman of the Red Hen in Washington, DC

A succulent dish that is simple and sophisticated at the same time.

YIELD: 6-8 portions

6 ea duck legs


Canola oil

1 ea white onions, roughly chopped

1 ea red onion, roughly chopped

1 ea carrots, roughly chopped

3 ea celery ribs, roughly chopped

3 ea garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 28 oz can of canned California tomatoes

1 qt duck stock (or chicken stock or water if nothing else is available)

Small bunch of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, tied with butcher’s twine

1/2 ea preserved lemon

Salt, to taste

  1. In large pans, sear off duck legs until browned. Reserve fat for another use. Add water to the pans to remove fond, and reserve water.
  2. Bring a large pot to heat and add olive oil. Once smoking, add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, stock, herbs and preserved lemon. Season with salt.
  3. Add duck legs to the pot of braising liquid. Cook for 2-3 hours on low heat, until meat is falling off the bone.
  4. Remove legs. Once cool enough to handle, tear the meat by hand and discard bones.
  5. Remove the sachet from the braising liquid. Puree the braising liquid and add meat into the finished braise.
  6. Serve warm with pasta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil.

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