Wednesday, October 05, 2011

31 Days of Holiday Baking - Day 5 :: Thanksgiving Menu

** post updated on Oct. 11 with Thanksgiving 2011 pics! **

For  those of us living in Canada, Thanksgiving is only one week away! I thought I'd share what we traditionally serve at Thanksgiving... on the years when we are cooking the dinner at home. As well, I'll share a few tips I've learned along the way!

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

  • Roasted Turkey - recipe below
  • Stuffing - recipe below
  • Gravy - recipe below
  • Mashed Potatoes - russet potatoes: boil, put through a food mill, then add melted butter and heated up whipping cream. Nice and creamy with no lumps.
  • Roasted yams, carrots, brussels sprouts - olive oil, lawry's salt, pepper, uncovered in the oven for an hour.
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Fresh Pumpkin Pie 
  • Apple Pie
  • White Cranberry Punch

Potatoes going through the food mill.
  1. Let/encourage your husband (if you have one!) to prepare the turkey, cuz who wants to put their hands in there? Not me, although I have done it.
  2. Buy bread for the stuffing at least the day before and leave it out of the package to dry out a bit. 
  3. Make twice as much cranberry sauce as you think you'll need so there's lots for sandwiches the next day.
  4. Keep your menu simple, and let the turkey be the star of the meal. I used to have veggie trays, a few different salads, homemade buns, etc., but it got to be too much food and who wants gravy getting on their salad anyway? 
  5. Invite over someone who may be away from their family.
  6. Watch for turkeys and cranberries to go on sale in the summer. They freeze well.


Roasted Brined Turkey

Turkey from Thanksgiving 2010!

1 whole frozen turkey
Cold water
Kosher Salt
Brown Sugar
Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

Thaw out your turkey in the fridge, to be completely food safe. Once thawed I like to soak it in brine overnight (again, in the fridge!). For the brine I get a container large enough to hold the turkey and enough water to completely cover it. To the cold water I add 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of kosher salt, a few bay leaves. Stir it up. Stick the turkey into the brine and put it somewhere cold (fridge).

The next morning take the turkey out of the brine and put it in your sanitized (bleached) kitchen sink. Rinse it WELL. There may be pockets of salt in the cavities, so be extremely thorough. Dry the turkey very well with paper towels.

Using a brine results in a very tender, delicious and moist turkey. I highly recommend it. 

The next step is to salt and pepper the turkey, inside and out. Not tons of salt, but definitely some to season it. We also rub butter under the turkey skin.

Set turkey aside and prepare the stuffing. Once bird is stuffed, place 4-6 whole carrots across the bottom of a roast pan. Using carrots in place of a roasting rack will infuse your turkey and your gravy with even more flavour. Cover the open end where the stuffing is with a bread crust to keep the stuffing from drying out. Tie the legs shut with string and place in roasting pan. Roast covered with a lid until the last 45 minutes. Then remove lid and baste the turkey to brown it. I can't tell you how long to roast your turkey for - it all depends on the size! Usually on the package it will give you tips about timing. We use a meat thermometer to know when it's done.

Once the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the roast pan and place it on another pan to rest. It's important to let it rest for awhile (10 minutes at least) before you start cutting into it so the juices will stay in the turkey and not flee onto the cutting board.


2 french loaves
1 multi grain loaf of bread
1 bunch celery
1 large onion
Fresh mushrooms (optional - ick)
Fresh poultry seasoning (sage, thyme, marjoram)
Freshly ground pepper - lots
Ground poultry seasoning
Chicken broth
Olive oil

Cut all of the bread into cubes the size of dice, approx. Place them in a huge bowl. Season well with all of your spices. Taste to see if it's flavoured enough. There's nothing worse than tasteless stuffing! 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan with just a splash of olive oil (to prevent the butter from burning). Saut√© the diced onion, celery and mushrooms in  the butter until softened. Combine everything in the large bowl, adding just enough chicken broth to make it moist.

Stuff the bird! Ya, even though it's not considered food safe anymore, we still stuff the bird. We just make sure to check the temperature of the stuffing to make sure it's fully cooked. Put any extra stuffing in a pan covered with tin foil and keep in the fridge until 45 minutes before the turkey should be done.

While the turkey is resting on the counter, remove carrots from the roast pan and put it on your stove top across two elements. Turn the stove onto medium and start whisking and scraping up all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. That's where all the flavour is! Meanwhile, in your Tupperware gravy shaker put about 3/4 cup flour, freshly ground pepper, chicken oxo and heavy cream. Put the lid on and shake it well.  While whisking, pour the flour mixture into the gravy. Stir like mad to ensure there are no lumps. Cook awhile longer. Remember, gravy thickens up as it cools, so don't make it too thick to start with! If it seems too thick, add a little milk.

I'll share the rest of my Thanksgiving Dinner recipes over the next few days and will post pictures of everything after Thanksgiving (October 10).

Please come on over and join in my Holiday Baking Linky Party!

Pumpkin Pies and Apple Pies in half pint jars!

Happy Thanksgiving!!


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1 comment:

  1. Great tips, thanks! :)
    That turkey sounds delish!