I know the holidays will look, and taste, different than most years. I also know many families cherish the big brisket, standing rib roast, or pot roast that graces their table each year. Traditions are important, and food imparts its own sanctity as part of holiday experiences; the smell, the sight, and the taste too, all play a crucial role in what makes family gatherings during a holiday so very special. It might not even be the flavor of the dish itself, but rather the knowledge and emotional connection that this dish was made in your family for generations.

But it’s likely that your family gathering will be smaller this year.

Let me be franker: I hope your family gathering will be smaller this year as we make tough choices around safety and health due to COVID-19, and so a brisket or other large roast may not be the ideal dish to serve as the main attraction.

The truth is there are so many alternatives to serving a brisket for this year, or any year. Chicken is a great choice because you can make an extra-special recipe and then enjoy leftovers the next day, or turn it into chicken salad to enjoy all week. Whole roasted cauliflower makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish, or delish side dish, that is as beautiful to look at as it is to enjoy eating. And fish is actually a symbolic food for the New Year in various traditions (or at the very least, presenting a fish head on the table!).

The last thing I will say on brisket: If it just won’t feel like the holidays without that special main roast, ask your butcher for a smaller piece of meat, or make your usual size and then pack up some extra meals to bring to friends, neighbors, or others in your community who I know would really enjoy a home-cooked meal this New Year.

Here’s a few main entrees that might be almost as good as that holiday brisket.

Instant Pot Georgian Pomegranate Chicken

Ina Garten’s Updated Marbella Chicken

Spice Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Coriander, and Lemon

Spicy Fish in Cherry Tomato and Harissa Sauce from Chef Einat Admony

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate Tahini Sauce from Cleaning Eating Magazine

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Tomato Salsa Recipe

Onion Tart Tatine from Woolworth’s Taste Magazine

Syrian Meatballs with Sour Cherries from Jennifer Abadi

Roast Lamb for One from Nigella Lawson

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