Tag Archives: turkey

Leftover turkey pizza

The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

We’re sure you’ve come across a lot of ways to use up leftover turkey, but what about a recipe that uses ALL the holiday leftovers? Introducing the Love Your Leftovers holiday pizza! You will never need — or want — to find another holiday leftovers recipe again. You might even find yourself roasting up a turkey just to make this delicious pizza. For the carbs portion, feel free to use any leftover carb you have available, like roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or stuffing. Add the cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts and you’re good to go!

Leftover turkey pizza cut up on counter

Leftover Turkey Pizza Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes
Total Time: 25 to 28 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup leftover turkey, pulled or diced (Not a fan of turkey, but have leftover ham or leftover rotisserie chicken? They both work too!)
½ cup mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes or stuffing
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup roasted Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

Leftover turkey pizza ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pizza stone in the oven. Divide dough into two equal portions. Stretch and roll out dough to desired thickness.

Person kneading pizza dough

2. Generously brush the dough with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pizza paddle.

Related: Delicious Uses for Leftover Mashed Potatoes

3. Dollop with ricotta cheese. Top with turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts.

Leftover turkey pizza

4. Slide pizza onto the heated stone and bake until the crust is golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Enjoy!

Leftover turkey pizza

Like Marcella’s leftover turkey pizza recipe? Try her vegan eggnog or her cinnamon streusel muffins.

Tea- and Orange-Brined Roasted Turkey

The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times

The main event during the holidays often involves serving a perfectly juicy and succulent roast turkey to the ones you love. The last thing you want to do is present an overcooked (or worse, undercooked) bird. Even if this isn’t your first gobbler, it’s handy to have a cheat sheet on file to ensure you’re on track for dinner time. Follow the chart below for a foolproof way to roast the perfect turkey for your holiday feast every single time.

Related: The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

How to Roast a Basic Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large roasting pan, place thawed turkey, breast side up and tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake turkey using the chart below. Remove foil during last hour of cook time. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F.

Size of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed
10-12lbs 3 – 3 ¼ hours 3 ½–3 ¾ hours
12-16bs 3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hours 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours
16-20lbs 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours
20-24lbs 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours 4 ¾ – 5 ¼ hours


Related: How to Brine a Turkey and Why You Should Try It

turkey cut in half on a plate with green leaf garnish and orange slices

Get the recipe for Tea- and Orange-Brined Roasted Turkey

Top Turkey Cooking Tips

1. If using a frozen bird, ensure it’s fully defrosted before roasting.

2. Take your bird out of the fridge while the oven preheats. Juices will run clear when the turkey is done. Look at the juices running from the meat around the thigh bone.

3. If you’re using a convection oven, your bird will cook in 25 per cent less time. Take 15 minutes off each hour on the recommended times above.

4. After the turkey is removed from the oven, let it rest for minimum 30 minutes. The juices need to resettle into the meat.

Looking for more delicious inspiration? Here are the perfect side dishes to pair with your holiday turkey.

brine turkey

How to Brine a Turkey and Why You Should Try It

If you’ve ever had unbelievably flavourful and juicy chicken at a restaurant, chances are it was brined before it was served to you. You can get that same tender result at home by brining your Thanksgiving turkey before roasting it. Besides adding flavour through aromatics like garlic and bay leaves, brining helps meat retain moisture through the cooking process, resulting in unbelievably tender turkey and lots of compliments to the chef. Whether it’s a wet or dry brine, it’s a real easy technique that is good to have in your repertoire. Here’s how to make both wet and dry turkey brines, along with some pros and cons for the two methods.

Turkey brine

Wet Brining

Pro: Soaking your bird in a saltwater solution allows you to easily infuse it with different flavours, such as bay leaves, citrus peels, whole peppercorns or onions. Just strain them after the brining is complete.

Con: Wet brining can be a bulky process. Because there is a lot of liquid involved, this method requires a large container to hold the turkey and the brine, which can mean rearranging your refrigerator ahead of the big day.

Con: For extra crispy skin, you need to remove the turkey from the brine and return to the fridge uncovered for several more hours to dry. With the dry brine, you can just roast straight away for golden, crispy results.

Simple Wet Brine for Turkey

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours

Ingredients:

1 L water
1 cup sea salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Peel of 1 lemon
3 L cold water
1 tall, large pot or container
1 large turkey, gizzards and neck removed from cavity

Directions:

1. Place 1 litre of water and all aromatics in a medium pot. Turn the stove to medium heat and stir until the salt has completely dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes while aromatics infuse. Combine with remaining water.

3. Place turkey in the pot and add saltwater mixture. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight.

Related: Tasty Ways to Use All That Leftover Turkey

4. When ready to roast, strain saltwater from the pot and discard any remaining aromatics.

5. Rinse turkey in cold water, including inside the cavity, to remove excess brine.

6. Place turkey on a clean towel or sheets of paper towel and pat dry.

7. Roast as desired.

Dry Brine

Pro: With no added liquid and just a medley of salt and spices rubbed directly on the bird you give the salt an opportunity to draw moisture from the bird. Once the salt dissolves,  the moisture is reabsorbed, salt in tow, tenderizing the meat and maintaining its flavour without watering it down.
Pro: Since there is no extra liquid used, roasting will yield a beautifully brown and crispy skin.

Con: The dry rub isn’t for those who hate getting hands-on with meat. You need to make sure this salt rub is rubbed in evenly for it to fully work its magic.

Simple Dry Brine for Turkey

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 8 to 12 hours

Ingredients:

2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
½ cup sea salt
2 Tbsp cane sugar
1 large turkey, gizzards and neck removed from cavity

Directions:

1. Place the first 5 ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until a chunky paste forms.

2. Add salt and sugar and continue to pulse until a grainy paste forms.

3. Pat turkey dry with paper towel and then liberally rub the salt mixture all over the skin and inside of the cavity.

Related: Turkey Cooking Tips to Roast the Perfect Bird Every Time

4. Place in refrigerator and let sit for 8 to 12 hours.

5. Remove from refrigerator and rinse in cold water to remove the rub.

6. Place turkey on a clean towel or sheets of paper towel and pat dry.

7. Roast as desired.

Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Try these make-ahead recipes for a stress-free Thanksgiving feast.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Published September 29, 2017, Updated October 1, 2019

Your 10 Most Common Turkey Cooking Questions, Answered

So you’ve decided to cook a turkey for the holidays, have you? NBD. It’s only the centrepiece of your entire meal—what could possibly go wrong?

We get it. The idea of roasting an entire bird that will either signify the success or failure of a dinner party is daunting, which is probably why we always have so many questions about how to properly cook the bird in the first place. It’s not like we do it every other week.

Thankfully, with a little planning and know-how, cooking a turkey is one of the most satisfying—and delicious—things about a group meal. Read on for answers to all of your juicy turkey-themed questions.


Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

1. How to cook a turkey, and for how long?

We swear one of the best ways to cook a turkey—for beginners, novices and experts alike—is the old fashioned way: roasting. How long you cook your turkey depends on how much it weighs and whether it’s stuffed.

A good rule of thumb is to roast a raw (not frozen), unstuffed turkey at 325°F for 20 minutes per pound. Remove the neck and giblets, rub it down with your chosen spice rub, put it in a roasting pan, and cover it or tent it with foil—shiny side down. Baste the bird with melted butter or pan drippings every half an hour, and remove the tent for the last 60 minutes. Then, let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

If you’re cooking a stuffed turkey, you can follow almost all of the same steps, but you’ll have to cook it longer. Need more info? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times.

2. How do you brine a turkey?

If you’ve craving super juicy, flavourful turkey, brining can be your best friend. Brining basically means you let your bird sit in a salty water bath for 12-24 hours before you roast it, which allows meat to retain more moisture through the cooking process. But you can dry-brine a turkey as well.

If you’re wet-brining, you’ll need an extra-large container to hold all of your liquid. If you’re dry-brining you’ll have to get down and dirty with your bird, ensuring that you massage all of that salty, flavourful goodness evenly into the meat.

Whichever method you go for, brining will definitely up your turkey-roasting game.

3. What temperature should you cook turkey?

Although 20 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb, how long a turkey actually takes to cook varies according to how often you’ve opened the oven door, whether the bird was completely thawed when you popped it in, how well your individual oven heats up and how evenly it cooks. That’s why it’s always important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. A bird is good to go when a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh of an unstuffed turkey reads 170° F, or 180° F for a stuffed bird. Be sure to check the stuffing itself too—that should reach 165 °F.

4. How to defrost a turkey quickly?

Most turkeys need a few days to fully defrost—about 24 hours per five pounds is widely considered the golden rule. Here’s the good news: If you forgot to transfer your turkey from freezer to fridge in time, you can still thaw your bird in a cold-water bath. Pop it in a clean sink, tub or container with enough cold water to immerse it completely, and then refill it every half-an-hour to help prevent any foodborne illness. At that rate, a 15-pound turkey should be ready to go in about 7.5 hours.


Get the recipe for Lemon-Sage Butter Roasted Turkey

5. How to carve a turkey?

Ever notice how no one ever jumps up at the chance to carve a turkey? It seems like such an overwhelming task, but once your turkey is roasted to golden perfection, you’re going to need someone to volunteer as tribute. Or, you can learn how to do it yourself!

Basically, remove the legs and thighs first, followed by the drumsticks. Carry on to remove the wishbone and then the breasts, followed by the wings. Slice the thigh meat and breast meat, then voila! Put it on a platter for all to enjoy. Easy peasy, turkey breezy. Or, something like that.

6. How to make ground turkey?

If you’re tired of regular old chuck, ground turkey can be a delicious alternative. When experimenting with new recipes remember to ensure you always cook ground turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F in order to prevent foodborne illness. Other than that, ground turkey is your playground. You can use it for comfort foods like meatloaf and chili, or get even more creative with stuffed peppers, meatballs and burgers. Basically you can use it any way you’d use regular ground beef.


Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Ohio  Turkey Chili

7. Why is turkey the healthiest meat?

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating turkey—it’s a lean, low-fat meat that’s full of protein and helps promote muscle growth. But like most health foods, there are some stipulations. Dark meat, although still full of vitamins, is higher in fat than white meat. And, like chicken, it’s best to avoid the fatty skin if you’re looking to keep the calories in check.

Considering that, why not take advantage of turkey leg sales after the holidays and whip up some Jerk Turkey Legs? Or pick up a breast and try out a hearty and satisfying stuffed Turkey Roulade.

8. Which holidays do you eat turkey?

As far as we’re concerned, any holiday is a good excuse to roast up a turkey, but typically in Canada we flock to the bird come Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s probably because fall and winter are great times to indulge in plenty of turkey leftovers. From Turkey White Bean Chilli and frittata, to sliders and panini, there are myriad ways to use up those bird-tastic extras.


Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Leftover Thanksgiving Panini

9. How long do turkey leftovers last?

If you need a bit of a break from new recipes after making such a big feast, no one would blame you. But if you do eventually want to give your leftovers new life, you’ll want to wrap them up and pop them in the fridge within two hours, and then use them within three-to-four days.

Otherwise, freeze leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to six months. That way, you can just pull them out the next time you’re hankering for a classic casserole or soup.

10. What are the easiest turkey recipes for beginners?

If you’re hesitant to cook a turkey, we definitely recommend starting with the basics. There are many, many ways to switch up roasted turkey when you consider the various spice mixes, brining techniques, stuffing options and even basting methods out there (we personally love layering the bird with bacon slices before popping it in the oven!).

Pick a recipe that you feel comfortable with, and experiment from there. And remember, practice makes perfect…ly  delicious turkey.

Turkey Trouble? How to Fix Your Worst Holiday Cooking Disasters

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to the kitchen, preparing a holiday feast is not without its challenges. No matter how well you plan and prepare ahead of time, something is bound to go awry when it’s time to get cooking. From forgetting to thaw the turkey to over-mashing your potatoes till they’re gluey, we’re here to help you fix all those holiday dinner mishaps.

brined-herb-crusted-turkey-with-apple-cider-gravyGet the recipe for Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

How to Defrost a Turkey Quickly

Arguably the most important part of any holiday feast, the turkey is the literal centerpiece of your table. If you’ve forgotten to defrost your turkey ahead of time (most frozen birds will need a few days to thaw fully in the refrigerator) you’re not entirely out of luck. Thawing turkey is one of those things you need to do safely in order to prevent any foodborne illness, and a cold water bath can take this task from days-long to a matter of hours.

Place the turkey in a sterilized tub, large sink or bathtub filled with enough cold water to cover it. Do not remove the bird from its wrapper. Refill the sink or tub with cold water about every 30 minutes to help prevent bacteria growth. Using this method, a 15-pound bird should take about 7.5-hours to defrost. When your turkey has defrosted, remove it from the water and dry with paper towels.

How to Fix an Overcooked Turkey

If you forgot to set a timer or simply calculated the math wrong for cooking your bird, you could be serving a dry, overcooked turkey. There are a couple of solutions that can help save your meal, the easiest being to make a knock-your-socks-off gravy to smother any overcooked meat with. Alternatively, you can ladle a bit of broth over the bird or rub some butter on the dry spots to help bring moisture back into the meat.

How to Fix Lumpy Gravy

A great gravy should be smooth and creamy, with nary a detectable lump. But if your gravy is more lumpy bumpy than silky smooth, there’s actually a pretty simple fix. First, whisk that gravy like your life depends on it — this will help break up larger clumps and smooth everything out. Then, pour the gravy through a fine mesh strainer to separate any smaller clumps the whisk might have missed. If your gravy is still lumpy after trying both of these things, you can try placing it in a blender with a touch of broth and pureeing until smooth.

recipe-vegetarian-gravyGet the recipe for Vegetarian Gravy

How to Fix Burnt Gravy

A burnt sauce happens to even the most experienced cook, and can be solved with a bit of care. First, remove your pan from the heat immediately. Place the bottom of the pan in cool water to help prevent further burning of the gravy. Grab and fresh pan and gently start scooping up as much unburt gravy as possible. Some cooking experts swear that adding a raw, peeled potato to the gravy will help absorb any burnt flavours, or you can try adding 1 tsp of smooth peanut butter at a time to the gravy, whisking well and tasting until the burnt flavour is gone. A pinch of sugar is another way to rescue burnt gravy.

How to Fix Crumbly Cookie Dough

If your holiday cookies are falling apart, it’s likely because the flour hasn’t absorbed enough liquid to bind everything together. In order to fix crumbly cookies, try adding more liquid to the recipe in small increments — whether that’s additional water, melted butter, or an egg.

How to Fix Burnt Cookies

Unless you have time to bake an entirely new batch of cookies, it’s worth trying to save the ones you accidentally burnt. You can try using a fine grater, such as a microplane, to shave off the burnt bits, or a serrated knife to cut off larger burnt pieces.

apple-pie-sliceGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

How to Fix Crumbly Pie Dough

Just like a crumbly cookie dough, crumbly pie crust needs more moisture added to it if you’re going to salvage it. Try sprinkling a few drops of water over your pie dough mixture before gently kneading or rolling until it is more pliable.

How to Fix A Hole in Your Pie Crust

Pie crusts are fragile things, and a hole can happen if you spread the dough too thin. Keep a few scraps of dough on hand in order to patch any holes with, then seal with a small amount of egg white and sugar before baking.

How to Fix Gluey, Over-Mashed Potatoes

Mash your potatoes too much or too vigorously and you’ll be left with an inedible gooey, gluey mess. Sadly, once this happens there isn’t much you can do to salvage them, aside from mixing in some properly mashed potatoes to help cut the gluey texture. However, you can turn your gluey mashed potatoes into a holiday gratin by spreading them in a thin layer across a baking dish, topping with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and baking until the top is nice and crispy.

Looking for more holiday cooking help? Try these 10 Turkey Cooking Tips to Roast the Perfect Bird Every Time.

chicken-stock-how-to-make

How to Make Fast Homemade Turkey Stock with Your Instant Pot

After a night of Thanksgiving cooking, cleaning and entertaining the last thing anyone wants to do is step back into the kitchen and embark on new cooking projects. You could spend hours simmering your turkey carcass to create stock, but with the help of an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, you can transform it into a rich, delicious golden stock in less than 20 minutes. Use this golden liquid to make soups, risotto, or use as a braising liquid. It also freezes beautifully, so you can use it any time.

turkey-carcas-for-stcok

20-Minute Instant Pot Turkey Stock Recipe

Ingredients:
1 turkey carcass
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, halved with skin left on
1 bunch parsley

Directions:
1. Pull any meat off the turkey carcass and reserve for another use. The bones don’t have to be completely clean. Place them in the Instant Pot with any leftover pan drippings or small leftover turkey bits.
2. Place carrots, celery, onion, and parsley into the pot.
3. Fill pot with water just to cover contents. Close lid and set to soup setting for 15 minutes.
4. When it is finished. Let the steam release from the valve.
5. Strain stock through a mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables.
6. Season stock with salt and pepper.

I like to make this beautiful soup using the stock with leftover turkey meat, sautéed leeks, fresh peas and Parmesan cheese. Looking for more ideas for what to make with your turkey stock? Try these tasty recipes:

Turkey-Kale-and-Brown-Rice-Soup-Recipe

Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup Recipe

leftover-turkey-pho-recipe

Leftover Roast Turkey Pho Recipe

alton-brown-turkey-soup

Bird to the Last drop Turkey Soup Recipe

Looking for more leftover ideas? Try these Tasty Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Here’s How Long You Can Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Once you’ve enjoyed a couple days of hot turkey sandwiches, and maybe made some turkey soup,  how long can you keep eating those Thanksgiving leftovers before it is time to toss? Here’s your ultimate guide for how long you can keep Thanksgiving leftovers like potatoes, turkey, stuffing, how to store them properly and how to know if they’ve gone bad.

lemon-sage-butter-roasted-turkey_888embed

How Long Leftover Turkey Lasts

Leftover turkey needs to be stored in the fridge within two hours of cooking in order to minimize the chance of bacteria growth. The meat should be cut and deboned from the bird before being placed into shallow storage containers and cooled completely in the fridge. Once it’s cool, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for two to four days. If you’re not sure if leftover turkey is safe to eat, check for a rotten egg smell or a slimy texture. If you notice either of these things, discard the meat immediately.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes should easily last three to five days in the fridge if stored correctly and within two hours of cooking. This means ensuring there isn’t any moisture buildup under the lid that could encourage the growth of bacteria. If your leftover mashed potatoes have an off smell or appearance, throw them out without tasting. Cooked potatoes can be frozen in an airtight container for up to one year.

Oven Baked Stuffing

How to Store Leftover Stuffing

Because stuffing is moist and slow to heat up and cool down, it provides an ideal place for bacteria to grow and is best consumed within two days of cooking. If you want to enjoy stuffing long after the main event, you can easily freeze it for up to four months and reheat when you’d like a festive side of comfort food.

How Long  You Can Keep Leftover Gravy

Gravy has a short shelf life at just three to four days, but like stuffing, it can be frozen for up to four to six months for increased enjoyment. In order to maintain food safety, gravy should be brought to a rolling boil before serving in order to properly kill any bacteria that may have started growing.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Sweet Potatoes in the Fridge

Just like regular potatoes, leftover sweet potatoes are safe to eat for three to five days after your Thanksgiving meal, whether they’ve been baked, boiled, or cooked in a casserole. Again, refrigerate within two hours of cooking, and store your cooked sweet potatoes in shallow airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. They can also be frozen for up to a year, just be sure to sprinkle them first with a small amount of lemon juice in order to prevent discolouration. If they smell strange or are discoloured (some browning is fine and is just the result of oxidation) you’re best off tossing them.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce should keep in the refrigerator for anywhere from 10-14 days, so long as it’s stored in a covered glass or plastic container. You can also pour the sauce into freezer-safe bags and freeze for use later in the year. If you’re using canned sauce and open the can only to discover brown or black bits inside, do not eat the sauce. If your homemade cranberry sauce has an off smell, flavour, or appearance, or you see any mould on top, toss it.

Blue-Ribbon-Apple-Pie-slice

How to Store Leftover Apple Pie

Pie made with fresh fruit, such as apples, usually only lasts a day or two in the fridge, so it’s best to gobble up any leftovers (or share with friends and family) as soon as you can. Un-cut apple pies can stay on the counter for about two days, so you should be good to make dessert ahead of time. You can tell your leftover apple pie has gone bad if the crust is soggy, which is a sign that it’s absorbed the moisture released by the fruit, or if it’s discoloured in any way.

How to Freeze Leftover Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is generally safe for two to four days in the fridge, and should be covered loosely with aluminium foil or plastic wrap. Leftover pumpkin pie can last for about six to eight months in the freezer if stored properly. Store bought pies will keep for longer on the counter than homemade versions. Because pumpkin pie is an egg-based dessert, it is best eaten within an hour of cooking or being removed from the fridge, and can cause serious health issues if eaten after being left out for too long.

Have lots of leftovers? Try these great recipes for leftover turkey.

3 Sourdough Stuffing Recipes

Move Over Turkey, These 3 Stuffings Are Bound for Thanksgiving Stardom

Holiday meals just wouldn’t be the same without turkey’s best sidekick: stuffing. Soaked in gravy and flavoured with herbs and spices, it’s a holiday essential. Some home cooks follow recipes that have been passed down for generations, while others try their hand at new recipes every year, searching for a modern classic. Here, using one loaf of humble sourdough bread, we’ve created three different stuffing recipes to suit any menu. Try one or try them all, and add something a little different on your table this year.

Sourdough Toast Stuffing Base 
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Tear 1 (454 g) loaf sourdough into 1-inch pieces and divide between two baking sheets, spreading into a single layer. Toast bread in oven until golden and dry, about 15 minutes. Use in stuffing recipe of choice (below).

Date Walnut Stuffing

Date, Walnut and Cinnamon Stuffing
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large, deep skillet, melt 2 Tbsp unsalted butter over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add in 1 recipe Sourdough Toast Stuffing Base (recipe above), 3/4 cup torn pitted dates and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Add 1-1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Stir everything to combine, transfer to a large ovenproof baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove foil and bake until crisp on top and heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve.

Sausage Stuffing

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large, deep skillet, cook 400 g Italian sausage (casing removed), breaking up meat with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add in 2 ribs diced celery, 1 finely chopped onion and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 recipe Sourdough Toast Stuffing Base (recipe above), 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage and 1/2 cup of roasted chestnuts (homemade, canned or vacuum-packed). Add 1-1/2 cups chicken stock, stir everything to combine, transfer to a large ovenproof baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove foil and bake until crisp on top and heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve.

applecranstuffing

Apple Cranberry Stuffing
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 Tbsp unsalted butter over medium heat. Add 1 thinly sliced onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add 1 large diced apple and cook for another minute. Stir in 1 recipe Sourdough Toast Stuffing Base (recipe above), 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary. Add 1-1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 tsp salt, stir everything to combine, transfer to a large ovenproof baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove foil and bake until crisp on top and heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve.

Turkey and stuffing are best buds, so we’ve compiled our best holiday bird recipes to pair with these newfangled stuffing centrepieces.

ina-gartens-Perfect-Roast-Turkey

Your Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner Checklist

The first time I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal from scratch, I can say for a fact that I used every single cooking vessel — pots, pans, roasters and Dutch ovens — in my reasonably well-equipped kitchen. Although I had lists upon lists and every step mapped out well beforehand, it still took three days of intensive cooking and resulted in my exhausted-self, muttering in an exasperated tone, “How the heck do people do this every year?” Experience has shown me the value of starting well ahead — a month or more, ideally. If this seems excessive, think of it as trading a frenzied few days for an hour here and there, resulting in a relaxing Thanksgiving. Here is a foolproof way to space out your Thanksgiving feast and make sure everything is on time, right up to the moment guests take their seats.

Make-Ahead-Deep-Dish-Apple-Pie

Thanksgiving Menu (Serves 8)

Greek Mezze Platter
Mulled Cider
Perfect Roast Turkey (10 to 12 lbs.)
Cauliflower Gratin
Spinach Gratin
Stuffing
Dinner Rolls
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Apple Pie
Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

One Month To Go

Order Your Turkey From the Butcher
You definitely don’t want to be the recipient of last-minute turkey on the big day, when selection is sparse and crowds are full. Ordering ahead — especially if you’re asking the butcher to do something more involved such as spatchcocking or you have a specifically sized bird in mind — will give you time to discuss your menu and get some cooking tips.

A general rule of thumb is a half pound to one pound of meat per person, but you want to err on the side of being lavish — leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. For a foolproof turkey measure, the Turkey Farmers of Canada offers an online turkey calculator that will tell you the size of turkey you should buy, depending on the number of guests.

Sit Down and Plan Your Menu 
Right down to drinks and appetizers! Decide on how many people you’re looking to invite and send out invitations with an RSVP time of next week. If your friends and family are notorious for bringing unexpected guests, budget space and food accordingly. Be practical: do you have enough seating and table room for everyone to comfortably eat?

Clean out Freezer Space
This is the time to start using those meals you’ve put aside for a busy day or ditch that crystallized ice cream — you’re going to need that room in the weeks ahead.

Three Weeks To Go

Finalize Your Menu
Now’s your opportunity to whittle down your menu from all the things you optimistically wanted to make. Be ruthless in your planning — do you really need eight appetizers and five desserts for a party of eight? (The answer is no).

Make Two Shopping Lists
Read all your recipes carefully and make two shopping lists: one for non-perishables (you’ll be buying those this week) and one for perishables to be purchased closer to the big day.

Go Shopping
Beat the crowds and head out to the grocery store to stock up on your long-storing items in bulk: store-made or canned/boxed stock for gravies and soups, flour and sugar for baking, cocktail napkins, and juices and pop for drinks. Also, think about buying ingredient staples, such as garlic, onions, apples, potatoes, carrots or parsnips, which all keep well and will save you from an overloaded cart later on. Buy ingredients for stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy to make next week. Consider purchasing wine and mixes for winter cocktails, such as a festive mulled cider.

Take Inventory
Open your cupboards and review your platters and serving dishes that can go from freezer or fridge to table and assign them to each dish: appetizers, turkey, stuffing, sauces, vegetables, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and desserts. Have a spare handy in case you misjudge the volume.

Simple-Oven-Baked-Stuffing-Recipe

Two Weeks To Go

Make Your Pie and Cheesecake Bites
Store them in the freezer on pretty plates that you can place on the table.

Time to Think Savoury Thoughts
Make-ahead gravy will take a last-minute item off your plate on the big day and let you focus on other things. Using roasted chicken wings builds a flavour base, so all you have to do is add the drippings when you’ve cooked your turkey and you’re all set. Cover and store in the freezer. Cranberry sauce is easy to make ahead, as well. Store it in a small microwavable dish that can go straight from the freezer to the table to save a plating step.

Get ahead of the game by making stuffing and storing it in the freezer and oven-safe dishes to make reheating a snap. Instead of one big container, consider making two portions to avoid having to pass big platters around the table (and upping the potential of using a toaster oven to reheat it on the big day, freeing up precious oven space).

Now’s also the time to par-bake dinner rolls to store in freezer bags (make sure to get out all the excess air) and whip up some make-ahead mashed potatoes to store in the freezer in oven-ready dishware.

One Week To Go

Grocery Shopping Round Two
Back to the grocery store with your second list of perishables, including vegetables such as cauliflower and spinach, dairy such as butter, milk and eggs, coffee and tea and any ingredients you need for appetizers. Consider some pots of fresh herbs for garnishes and aromatic table decorations.

Time for a Kitchen Inspection
Clean out space in the refrigerator for leftovers, and give it a quick wipe down so that new food doesn’t absorb the odours of last week’s takeout. Check your oven, toaster oven, stovetop and range hood to ensure they are clean and ready to go. Pop out greasy filters to give them a soak so that your fans work effectively. Locate your fire extinguisher (better safe than sorry), warming trays or chafing dishes and check that you have enough power outlets to run everything — a power failure is the last thing you need.

Check your Dishware and Cutlery Situations
Do you have enough matching plates, forks, spoons and sharp knives, coffee cups, and wine and water glasses? Locate your cloth napkins and tablecloths, and wash them if necessary.

Related: Turkey Cooking Tips to Roast the Perfect Bird Every Time

Three Days To Go

Pick up Your Fresh or Frozen Turkey
If it’s frozen, now is the time to start defrosting it in the refrigerator (for a 10 lb bird, Turkey Farmers of Canada recommends two days and two hours of defrosting time in the fridge).

Two Days To Go

Veggie Time
Make your veggie side dishes in table-ready serving ware, cover them securely and store in the fridge.

One Day Before

Get Your Gear Ready
Assemble serving platters for the turkey and rolls, as well as serving implements for each dish. Check how many trivets you have for warm dishes going to the table to preserve your tablecloths. Put together your smaller items, such as corkscrews, pie servers, gravy boats, ladles, electric carving knife, strainers and hand blenders for last-minute gravy adjustments, etc., to have on hand so that you’re not searching for them at the last minute. If you don’t use your coffeemaker or espresso machine regularly, pull it out of storage. Assemble appetizer and dessert plates with cocktail napkins.

Set the Table
Cover the whole table with another tablecloth or bed sheet to keep it dust-free, and watch out on removal so you don’t end up performing an inadvertent, unsuccessful, magic trick.

Prepare and Truss the Turkey
And store it uncovered in the roasting pan in the refrigerator to let the skin dry out for crispness.

Related: Delicious Uses For Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Gather Your Garnishes
A bit of watercress or other greens is a pleasing contrast to the turkey. Put butter into serving dishes, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Assemble your appetizer platters and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Chill white wine, juice and soda. Print out the game plan below so you can check items off as you go.

The Big Day

Treat yourself and sleep in! You’ve earned it, and you’ll need the energy as the day goes on. Make sure to have some lunch, so you’re not starving as the day goes on. Look over your lists and recipes again. Take the apple pie out of the freezer to defrost.

1 PM: Carefully remove the cover from the table setting and add any last-minute touches (the pots of herbs for an informal centrepiece, candles, fresh flowers, etc.).

2 PM: Pull turkey out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.

3 PM: Turn on the oven to 350 ° F to preheat. Add aromatics such as onions and apples, if desired, to the cavity of the turkey.

3:30 PM: Put the turkey into the oven.

4 PM: Open or decant wine. Put mulled cider on the stovetop to simmer.

5 PM: Bring your appetizer platters out of the fridge to serve, adjusting any seasonings or last-minute garnishes. Bring the mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.

6 PM: Guests arrive. Serve appetizer platter, wine and mulled cider. Take the turkey out of the oven and cover with foil to rest. Pour off juices to add to gravy (reserve a 1/4 cup) and put on stovetop to heat. Put mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables into the oven. Carve the turkey. Take reserved juices and pour on top of the slices to keep them moist and plate them on your prepared platter with watercress.

6:45 PM: Take out potatoes, stuffing and vegetables and put them on the table. Put dinner rolls in the oven to finish baking and melt butter on a low heat on the stovetop to brush over. Call everyone to start getting ready to eat. Pour wine and drinks. Bring the rolls and turkey to the table.

7 PM: Dinnertime! Turn the oven off. Put pie in the oven to warm for dessert and bring out the cheesecake bites. Turn on the coffeemaker.

8:30 PM: Serve desserts and coffee and tea.

10 PM: Relax… the dishes can wait until tomorrow.

Family Style Holiday Poutine

Leftover Turkey? Make This Family-Style Poutine

You’ve made turkey soup and endless turkey sandwiches, but there’s one more deliciously Canadian way to use up those last bits of leftover holiday turkey.

All of the best parts of a festive turkey dinner combine to make a cheesy, gravy-filled poutine. Roast sweet potatoes make a festive, crispy and colourful base for leftover or quick homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey and squeaky cheese curds. Just set in the middle of the table with lots of forks, and enjoy!

Family Style Holiday Poutine

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 10 to 15

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes, skin intact, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips or wedges
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Cranberry Sauce (or 1/2 cup prepared cranberry sauce)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup

For the Extra Toppings
200g cheese curds
8 oz cooked smoked or roasted turkey meat (not deli meat), shredded
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole fresh rosemary twigs to garnish

Family Style Holiday Poutine

Directions:

Sweet Potato Fries
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. On a large baking sheet, toss all sweet potato ingredients until sweet potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and beginning to brown on the bottom.

Cranberry Sauce
1. In a medium skillet or small saucepan, bring all cranberry sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce to medium low. Cook, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced and cranberries are burst.
2. Remove from heat, mash cranberries with a fork until desired texture is reached. Set aside.

Assembly
1. On a warm platter or in a warmed cast-iron skillet (for presentation only), add a bed of fries. Top with cheese curds and turkey. Ladle over gravy (use as much as you prefer; there may be extra), followed by cranberry sauce and chopped rosemary. Garnish with a rosemary twig and serve immediately.

Looking for more tasty leftover ideas? Try our 14 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Leftovers.

Best-Ever Gravy Recipe

Don’t let your gravy be an afterthought — this killer herb-infused, make-ahead recipe is about to become your secret weapon for winning the holidays.

Never underestimate the power of a good gravy. From its ability to heat up lukewarm mash to its sly way of camouflaging a turkey that’s been cooked a bit too long, gravy is the unsung superhero of holiday cooking that rarely gets the glory it so deserves.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-with-chicken-wings

Making it ahead means you can take your time creating the kind of rich and velvety gravy holiday dreams are made of. This one is built on a solid foundation of chicken wings, a gorgeous helping of flavour-packed vegetables, and a seasonal trio of fresh herbs, all slow-roasted to perfection. To really send it over the top, add the juices from your roasted bird the day of for even more depth of flavour. Just try not to guzzle it up all before it hits the table.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-using-chicken-wings

Ingredients:
8 to 12 chicken wings
2 yellow onions, halved with outer skin in tact
4 to 5 small carrots, peeled, quartered
3 celery stalks, quartered
4 fresh rosemary stems
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
4 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp flour

best ever gravy with mashed potatoes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place all the ingredients in a large roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for about 75 minutes.
3. Set roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 8 cups of boiling water, scrapping up any brown bits as you stir. Sprinkle in flour and stir to ensure no lumps form. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, smashing with a potato masher every now and again.
4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into another pot. Let cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
*If serving with your holiday turkey, reserve any juices from your bird and add this to your make ahead gravy.

Turkey Sandwich

A New Thanksgiving Tradition: Braised Turkey Sandwich

This year, instead of roasting a whole turkey, flout tradition and go straight for everyone’s favourite next-day dishl the turkey sandwich. While we love the iconic moment of carving the bird, this hassle-free recipe delivers all the moist, tender flavour, minus the intimidation factor.

Turkey legs are braised low and slow in a bath of milk, and the result is fall-off-the-bone meat with a subtle sweetness from the milk. Pile it high and top with a slather of mustard, cranberry sauce and a pickle for a sandwich worth giving thanks for.

Braised Turkey Sandwich

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 turkey legs
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
3 shallots, quartered
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups milk
2 sprigs thyme
8 slices sourdough bread, toasted
1/4 cup bread and butter pickles
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cranberry sauce

Directions:
1. Season turkey legs with salt and pepper.
2. Heat butter and oil in a large heavy bottom pot over high heat. Place 1 turkey leg in pot and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer leg from pot to a plate and repeat with other leg. Transfer other leg to plate.
3. Place shallots and cider vinegar in pot. Using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to lift any brown bits.
4. Reduce heat to medium and cook shallots until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
5. Return turkey legs to pot and pour in milk with thyme sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high to bring milk to boil. Quickly reduce heat to medium-low and cover pot. Let cook, rotating leg every 30 min until turkey is cooked through and falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
6. Transfer turkey legs to a bowl and pull the meat off the bones using a fork. Discard tendons and bones. Shred meat using two forks.
7. Pour 1 cup of cooking liquid over pulled turkey meat and stir to combine.
8. Spread dijon mustard over two pieces of toasted sourdough bread. Place desired amount of meat on one piece of bread and top with pickle and cranberry sauce.
9. Close sandwich and serve immediately.

How to Shop For The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Everyone knows the best part of Thanksgiving is the turkey — it’s the magnificent centrepiece that the rest of the meal is planned around. Without the turkey, loading up your plate with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy (especially the gravy) just doesn’t seem right. Because the turkey is so vital, you should select your bird with care, and there are many things to consider when making your purchase.

888_how-to-shop-for-a-turkey

Fresh vs. Frozen

While neither fresh nor frozen is technically better than the other, there are several differences to consider. Frozen turkeys will have a sweeter taste than a fresh turkey’s gamey flavour,
they are cheaper than most fresh birds and are often more convenient. A frozen bird can be kept in your freezer for up to a year, while a fresh turkey should be purchased only a day or two before your holiday feast and stored in a very cold location. However, defrosting a frozen turkey takes a few days and must be done properly to prevent bacterial growth. (A note: pre-stuffed turkeys can also pose a risk for bacteria, so stuff your own!) Always look for Grade A meat, whether you opt for fresh or frozen.

When choosing a frozen bird, take a look at the shape of the turkey — a plump, round shape is typically best. This means there is lots of tender meat on the bones. A flatter, larger turkey may indicate a bony body, which can mean dry or tough meat. Inspect carefully; avoid freezer burn and ice crystals, and make sure there are no tears in the packaging. Don’t forget to look at the label and choose the freshest turkey possible!

If you opt for a fresh turkey, grocery stores and butchers are can provide decent poultry, but you can also make the trip to a farm. The advantage here is that you can actually ask questions about the turkey; how it was raised and its age. These factors will determine the freshness and taste of the meat. A younger turkey, for example, will be more tender than an older bird.

Organic

What exactly does organic mean? This means the turkey has been fed real grains, without pesticides and with no added growth hormones or antibiotics (which is what makes a turkey plump).
You will get a more natural taste, but pay a higher price for it. Although, around the holidays, most grocery stores have great sales on poultry, so shop around for a good deal. A truly organic turkey will be labeled with “no hormones” or “no antibiotics.”.

Free-Range

Free-range animals are given space to move around outdoors rather than being cooped up in the close quarters of a barn. Having some room for mobility and exercise actually helps to create
leaner and better textured meat. Plus, they are often ingesting natural foods (like grass and flowers) from their environment, which gives them more of a pure taste. Be warned, however, that not all
free-range poultry is necessarily organic. Read labels carefully.

Weight

It may sound crazy when you say you are cooking 20 pounds of meat, but for a big family meal, that is entirely normal. To make sure there is enough to go around (and some for leftover sandwiches, of course), purchase approximately 1.5 pounds per dinner guest. Cooking a large turkey takes several hours, so you may want to purchase two medium-sized birds to eliminate some cooking time.

Alternatives

Sometimes, a giant turkey just isn’t the right fit for your Thanksgiving meal, so here are a few alternatives:

Turkey Breast: If you’re hosting a more intimate dinner, several pounds of meat won’t be required. Opt for a turkey breast, which is white meat only.

Mock Turkey: Often referred to as “tofurkey,” this is vegetarian-friendly option involves no turkey whatsoever. It is usually in loaf form, made from tofu or a wheat protein.

Turkey Roll: These can be tricky to make, but are very easy to buy. It involves cutting the breast from the turkey in one whole piece, flattening it, stuffing it with filling and then rolling it. Fresh turkey rolls are available around the holidays, co check your local farmer or butcher.

For lots of delicious recipes for the holiday bird, check out Our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

 

Weeknight Meal: Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

By Randa Derkson

I’ll never forget the first time I made these stuffed peppers. I originally made them because they were a healthier option to what I was craving (Sloppy Joes) and while they were in the oven, the doorbell rang. It was my photographer, hand-delivering my son’s first birthday photos.

Ever since that day, the smell of these stuffed peppers roasting in the oven reminds me of running into my home office, popping the disc of images into my computer and being overjoyed with the memories captured from my son’s birthday, smashed cake and all. It gives me butterflies just thinking about it.

This recipe also shows me how far my blog has come. The stuffed peppers recipe is my most-pinned recipe on Pinterest and by far the most popular recipe on my blog. The original photo was a poorly lit, badly filtered image, yet still gathered an audience of admirers. It’s a reminder of my humble beginnings in both my personal and professional life.

Isn’t it amazing how a simple recipe can leave a lasting impression on your heart?

Paleo Turkey Stuffed Peppers, Courtesy of Randa Derkson, thebewitchinkitchen.com, Terrace, B.C.

Developed as a healthier alternative to Sloppy Joes, these baked peppers are just as easy to prepare for a fast and filling weeknight meal.

paleo-turkey-stuffed-peppers_888embed

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 lb (450 g) ground turkey
3 cups (750 mL) spinach
2 cups (500 mL) crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh basil
1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
3 red bell peppers, stems removed, halved and seeded

Directions
1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add turkey; sauté no longer pink inside. Add spinach, stirring until wilted.
2. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Divide turkey mixture evenly among pepper halves. Cook in 425°F (220ºC) oven for 25 minutes, or until meat mixture has browned and peppers are tender.

Click to print, save or share this Paleo Stuffed Peppers recipe.

The Bewitchin’ Kitchen
Randa is a work-at-home mom who resides in British Columbia. She believes that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether it’s discussing your day, sharing the highlights of a trip or just having quality time with a loved one, life revolves around the kitchen table.