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Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Tired of Turkey? Try Duck for Thanksgiving!

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Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Tired of Turkey? Try Duck for Thanksgiving!

What happens if you don’t like eating turkey for Thanksgiving?

When I first came back to the United States as an adult, meaning as the one who could decide what to put on the table, my first contention with Holiday meals was at Thanksgiving.  What happens if you do not like turkey? What are your alternatives when the rest of the country (and all of your neighborhood stores) are poking and prodding you towards the big bird.Thanksgiving place setting

For me, first of all, it was difficult to find a turkey small enough that it would not generate three weeks of painful leftovers.  Then, turkey always came as a very second best to a tender and juicy roasted chicken which did not leave the entire dinner table in a quasi-comatose sleepy state that made conversation difficult and the traditional after dinner board games an excruciatingly painful experience.

The prospect of stuffing myself as much as we earlier did that poor bird was not a pleasant one (plus, I like my stuffing cooked outside of the bird, and therefore can make it any day of the year and not specifically that one!).  I then started collecting recipes for the Holidays that were “the other recipe” and came up with a few traditions of my own.  If my children want to go back to the more traditional recipes that are offered on American Holidays, so be it.  But around my table, variety and food exploration is a must and I love to think that we are setting new trends in the century old history of our family.

In fact, if you are really curious about it, the turkey is not really anyone’s favorite part of the meal.  At best, you have achieved a major victory if it comes out moist and tender.  But turkey will always be turkey and this is why, more than during any other meal, the main focus and claim to glory is given to sides.  When we started thinking of Thanksgiving without the turkey, we could still keep the fabulous sides but relax about the main protein.

So we have now accumulated a few dishes that are repeat requests throughout the years.  Some of them are really out there, like a slow cooked lamb stew with Moroccan spices, and others a little more conventional, like oven roasted salmon with sweet potato wrapping.

We continue to enjoy the mashed sweet potatoes or Sweet Potatoes Anna, the green bean casserole and the fresh peas with butter lettuce.  Also, one of my favorite dishes, which I share with you today, is an easy to prepare chicken sausage stuffing… because, if you are like me, the only reason I would eat the bird is to get to the stuffing.  Stuffing is bread, vegetables and meat or sausage, isn’t it, and it uses the same components as a chicken sandwich revisited by the Pilgrims? So I make a big batch, eat a little at Thanksgiving and enjoy it as a refined sandwich in non-chronological order for the rest of the week…. and give thanks for the abundance on our table and in our pantry, whether it is Thanksgiving or not!

By the way, I will now and then indulge in a slow roasted crispy skin whole turkey breast with total delight.  Just not on Thanksgiving day….

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!

Traditional Sausage Dressing

Makes 8 to 10 servings


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality day-old whole-wheat or sourdough bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups 1/4″ slices celery or fennel depending on preference
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
•    2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
•    1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
•    1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
•    2 tsp kosher salt
•    1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•    1 lb chicken sausage without casing
•    2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
•    2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 13x9x2″ baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add sausage in small pieces and allow to brown on each sides.  When no longer pink, remove from the skillet, leaving the remaining oil and brown bits in the skillet.  Add the onions and celery to the skillet. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes.

DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.

Remove foil and bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).

Duck with Green Olives and Herbes de Provence

Prep Time: 45 Minutes

Total Time: 3 Hrs 45 Min

Servings: 2 To 4


2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme
8 garlic cloves, halved
2 bay leaves
1 large celery rib, sliced 1/4 inch thick
One 5 1/2-pound duck, halved, with backbone, neck and wing tips removed and reserved (see note)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Herbes de Provence
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups pitted French green olives, rinsed


Preheat the oven to 475°. In a small roasting pan, spread half of the chopped onions, 1/4 cup of the parsley, 1 tablespoon of the thyme and the garlic, bay leaves and celery. Prick the duck skin all over with a fork and rub the duck with 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence. Set the duck halves on the vegetables, cut sides down, and roast for 10 minutes. Prick the duck skin again, cover the pan with foil and reduce the oven temperature to 275°. Roast the duck for about 3 hours longer, until the meat is very tender and most of the fat has rendered.

When the duck is tender, transfer the halves to a work surface. Halve each half; remove any vegetables, pockets of fat and loose bones. Transfer the duck pieces to a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up.

Strain the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan and skim off the fat; boil the strained juices until reduced to 1/4 cup. Add the chicken stock and the olives to the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence.

Preheat the broiler. Season the duck with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Broil 10 inches from the heat for about 5 minutes, or until the duck is hot and the skin is crisp. Spoon the sauce onto a platter and set the duck on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of thyme and serve.

MAKE AHEAD: The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate the duck and sauce separately. Allow the duck to come to room temperature before broiling it.

Note: Ask your butcher to cut the duck for you.  If you are feeding a crowd, you can cook up to three ducks at a time.  Increase the aromatics and sides accordingly.

Chocolate Crusted Chocolate Tart

Serves 12


Tart Shell

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons almond flour or finely ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg


3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
12 ounces dark (72%) chocolate, chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk


1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin from a Knox gelatin packet
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces dark (72%) chocolate, chopped
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving


Make the tart shell:

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, blend 1 cup of whole-wheat pastry flour with the butter, coconut sugar, cocoa, almond flour and salt at medium speed. Mix in the egg just until a soft dough forms.
Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and lay another large sheet of plastic wrap on top. Roll out the dough between the plastic wrap to a 12-inch round. Transfer the round to a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325°.

Peel off the top sheet of plastic and invert the dough onto a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Remove the remaining sheet of plastic and gently press the dough into the pan. Trim the dough flush with the rim. Freeze until firm, 10 minutes.

Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until the tart shell is nearly cooked through. Remove the parchment and weights and bake until the shell is cooked through, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 250°.

Make the filling:

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand until melted, 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolk, then whisk in 1/2 cup of the chocolate cream. Thoroughly whisk this custard into the chocolate cream in the saucepan. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until set around the rim but still slightly jiggly in the center, 30 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.

Make the glaze:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let stand 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, whisk the cream, coconut sugar and cocoa over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scrape the gelatin into the cocoa mixture, add the milk chocolate and whisk until melted.

Pour the glaze over the tart and spread it in an even layer using an offset spatula. Refrigerate the tart until the glaze is firm, 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

Notes: Almond flour, made from finely ground blanched almonds, can be found at most gourmet and health-food stores.

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