Oyster dressing, sausage: Try these nontraditional Thanksgiving dishes

Posted at 8:27 AM, Nov 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-13 10:18:11-05

Is this the year to change up the tradition of your family's Thanksgiving feast?

Here are a few alternatives to try on your guests.

Sub out stuffing with oyster dressing
Stuffing is usually a staple at everything Thanksgiving meal, so replacing this one might be hard. Add something to it to spice it up a little .... oysters. has a great recipe for oyster dressing.  

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What you'll need:
8 cups plain bread cubes or 8 cups cornbread cubes
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans oysters, with liquid
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup evaporated milk

How to make it, according to the recipe at
Heat milk, butter, and oyster liquid in small pan.
Combine bread cubes, celery, onion, spices, and oysters. (You may cut up the oysters if they are too large for you.).
Add liquid and stir.
Stuff poultry or place in greased foil lined baking dish.
Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until poultry is done.

​Sausage instead of turkey (gasp!)
It could be tough to swap out the turkey, but try it anyway. Sausage already has that down-to-earth, fall flavor about it, but mixed with thyme, rosemary and apples, it is certain to be your main attraction at your next Thanksgiving day dinner. The recipe from is a great one:

​What you'll need:
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound pork or chicken sausages, cut into 1/2" diagonal slices
4 medium tart apples (such as Granny Smith or Idared), peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2" wedges
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
​1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (off the stem)
2 tablespoons maple syrup

How to make it, according to
1. Heat two teaspoons of the oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning often, until lightly browned and no longer pink. Remove from pan.
2. Add remaining two teaspoons oil to pan. Put in apple, pepper, rosemary and thyme and drizzle with syrup. Cook, tossing often, until tender, 12 to 14 minutes.
3. Return sausage to pan and toss with apple to heat through. Serves 4.

Potato twist
For a twist on potatoes why not try sliced baked potatoes. This is another recipe.

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What you’ll need:
4 medium baking potatoes (evenly-sized)
1 teaspoon salt
2 -3 tablespoons melted butter
2 -3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (i.e. parsley, chives, thyme, sage) or 2-3 teaspoons dried herbs, of your choice
4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

How to make it, according to
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel potatoes, if the skin is too tough, otherwise just scrub and rinse them.
Cut potatoes into thin slices, but NOT all the way through. (Place a handle of a spoon or table knife along-side the potato to prevent the knife from slicing all the way.)
Put potatoes in a baking dish; slightly fan out the slices.
Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with butter.
Sprinkle with herbs.
Bake potatoes (425 degrees) for about 50 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Sprinkle with cheeses.
Bake potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, cheeses are melted and potatoes are soft inside.
Check for doneness with a fork or skewer

Soup for dinner
Ever had this thought? "I want something really different, but guarantee the love for the meal is the same?" Let’s face it, we all think we want to try new things and have new adventures but when it comes right down to it we tend to stick with what’s comfortable and familiar. So what’s more comforting than soup? And, we are going to keep the tradition of Thanksgiving alive with this soup. It’s basically Thanksgiving dinner in a soup form. Here's how the Food Network says to make this dish:

What you’ll need:
8 cups chicken broth
1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
1 carrot, halved lengthwise, plus 1 carrot, minced
1 whole stalk celery, plus 1 stalk, minced
1 onion, halved, plus 1 onion, minced
2 bay leaves
3 cups dark turkey meat
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving side vegetables ( Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, green beans)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Mashed Potato Polpetti (Patties), for serving, recipe following
For the Mashed Potato Polpetti (Patties):
3 cups mashed potatoes
Grey salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Leftover gravy, for serving

How to make it, according to the Food Network:
Put the chicken broth, turkey, carrot halves, celery stalk, onion halves and 1 bay leaf in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, about 1 1/2 hours.

Dice the turkey meat. Make sure the meat pieces are no larger than the size of a soupspoon. (If preparing the soup the next day, be sure to store leftover turkey meat in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator. Top with one or two ladles full of broth to keep the meat moist.)

Before straining the broth, remove the large bones and carcass with tongs. Strain the broth through a sieve covered with wet cheesecloth. Discard the solids. Transfer the broth to a bowl set in a bath of ice water, which will cool the broth quickly and help keep it fresher longer. This can be done the night before and stored in the refrigerator until the next day.

In a large soup pot, heat the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Allow to brown slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the minced carrots, celery and onions. Sweat over medium-low heat until softened, 7 or 8 minutes.

Dice the leftover Thanksgiving vegetables. Add the sage to the soup pot along with the turkey broth and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the Brussels sprouts, green beans and diced turkey meat to the soup. Bring it back up to a simmer. Finally, add the sweet potatoes to the center and gently push them down. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow to sit and steam, 5 to 7 minutes. Let simmer for 5 more minutes and serve with the Mashed Potato Polpetti.

Re-season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese. Take a mayonnaise or peanut butter lid and line with plastic wrap to use as a mold. Pack the potato mixture into the lid, unwrap it and place the patty on a baking sheet. You may refrigerate them covered with plastic wrap until the next day, or fry immediately.

To cook, dredge the patties in flour. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Just before frying, dredge the patties again with flour.

Add the patties to the oil without crowding them (you may have to cook them in batches). Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with leftover gravy. Makes 6 servings.

Have other nontraditional Thanksgiving meal ideas? Email the writer at to make suggestions.