Sunday, October 18, 2015


Thanksgiving is done, atleast in Canada.  We've consumed lot of stuffing, cranberries, yams, potatoes, carrots, and of course turkey!  So what do we do with all those left overs!?  Well, if you've kept your carcass you have soup; but that's not all!  Here is a list of dish combinations that you can make to keep everyone interested and you using up those leftovers!  

Turkey broth - place your turkey bones in the largest pot you have, fill up the pot until the water just covers the bones.  Add in 1 onion, 2 carrots broken up by hand, and 2-3 stocks of celery, a bayleaf, and some thyme.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to just above a simmer (maybe medium low).  Let still simmer about 4-6 hours and then strain it.  Let the mixture coolest in the fridge overnight, then the fat should have hardened and you can just pull it out.  To freeze you have 2 options.  Option a- use a cleaned out milk jug (4l size) and pour the broth in there, OR you could use ice cube trays and freeze the broth into ice cubes to be used later as needed.  

Turkey "shepherds" pie - uses carrots, peas, corn, onion, turkey.  You can use both your yams (or sweet potatoes) with your white potatoes for the top.  Plus, if you used your carcass for broth it works well for this dish.

1/2 cup each of carrots, peas, and corn
1 onion
2-3 cups of turkey meat roughly chopped into chucks (1.5-2" approx)
1/2 cup each of butter and all purpose flour 
3 cups of quality turkey or chicken stock (recipe above)
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of mashed yams
1 cup of cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre heat your oven to 375f.  Melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan, add in the veg and stir over. medium high heat for 4-5 minutes to warm up the veggies.  Add in the flour and stir to create a roux with the vegetables.
2. Once the flour looks like it is incorporated and it looks mushy add in 3 cups of turkey or chicken stock, and keep stirring until it starts to thicken.
3. Add in the turkey meat and warm it slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold it, either a 9x9 glassware oven proof pan or a round baking disk.
5. Combine the potatoes and yams and put on top of the turkey veg mixture.  Spread it out and add the cheese on top.
6. Bake covered at first for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes to brown the cheese slightly.
7. Let cool for about 5 minutes then serve it up!  

Awesome Turkey Sandwich
You can really use your turkey here for a great sandwich!
1) grab your self some rectangular ciabatta buns
2) slather on mayo and butter
3) start turkey on the bottom, then add stuffing, lettuce, cranberries and top it off
4) eat!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thanksgiving dinner

Turkey or ham?  If turkey, do you stuff or not?  While I'm not here to hash out that debate, I can tell you about some of the things I do to make thanksgiving dinner.  

First, I usually cook a turkey.  It's a tradition for my family and I actually enjoy the many ways that a turkey could be prepared.  Like chicken, there are plenty of ways to cook a turkey.  This year I'm opting to smoke my turkey.  I usually roast it but I have rotisseried, deep fried, deboned and stuffed.  If we buy a frozen turkey I like to thaw it in the fridge for 7 days before, sometimes 5.  You can thaw it under running cold water as well.  Most health authorities will not recommend thawing on your counter as it gives salmonella a chance to grow and potentially give people food poisoning.

Stuffing in or out? 
I don't normally stuff my turkey.  I just think that the stuffing can't get to the right temperature needed to kill all the bacteria.  However, that isn't to say that you shouldn't.  If you precook your stuffing a little bit just to get it hotter you can add the stuffing to the bird.  Cook your turkey for about an hour or so first, then stuff it.  Continue to cook them together in your oven.  

I find 350F is a good temperature to cook at, and if you have a digital thermometer that you can leave in the bird it will be easier to know when it's done, otherwise check the temperature about every hour, you are looking for 165-170 when it comes out.  

Your turkey is not ready yet, so make sure you plan this carefully.  Now place tin foil over the bird, don't wrap it, but cover it and let it rest at least 30 minutes.  You're doing this because the juices in the meat are still really excited and if you just start cutting into it out goes all that flavor!  Let them relax, you can too, have some wine.... Or whine... Depending on how everything else is turning out.

Most turkeys sold in Canadian grocery stores are going to be between 6-11kg (12-22lbs, if you're not sure how many pound you have? Multiply your kg weight by 2.25, OR ask Your phone if it has a personal assistant on it, like Siri or OK Google).  Cooking time may vary, but I'd say 2-2.5hrs is a good cook time, 4 max.  This where good planning skills will come in handy.  In culinary school I was always taught to make a schedule, now I'll do one in my head for the items that will take longer than an hour to cook.  I start with what time I think we could be ready to eat, subtract from that how long I need to carve, and rest the item in question.  From there I consider what method I'm using, I'll usually research a few websites about the method of cooking I'm using just to make sure I have a realistic time in my head.  From there I get the time I need to start cooking.  Today for example, we are having guests, I want to smoke my turkey, brine it, rest it, carve it and eat by 5:30 or 6.  So brining (I'll discuss later on) will take 12 hours atleast.  Cooking takes 3hrs, resting is 30 minutes, carving is about 30 minutes.  So that's 4 hours of cooking.  I need to start smoking by the latest of 1:30pm.  During the cooking time I can start my other sides.  

What's Brining? 
I like to brine because it is a great way of adding flavor to your bird and keeping moisture in it during the hot cooking process.  A brine is typically a salt sugar solution that injects moisture.  There are lots of great recipes on the internet, I personally like Chef Michael Smith or Alton Brown for their recipes.  I have found that those 2 cooks are generally easy to follow and their recipes turn out for me every time.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!  Hope this helps!