The Thanksgiving Turkey

OFF Turkey

Turkey day 2010 is fast approaching and our friends at Ontario Farm Fresh are here to give us all some tips on how you can make this year’s Thanksgiving a memorable one.

Learn how to buy a turkey, know the portion sizes for you guests, proper thermometer techniques, and of course how to cook a Turkey.


Tips and Tidbits

  • When choosing a turkey, plan on 1 lb per person, or 1 ½ lbs each for plenty of leftovers.
  • Fresh or frozen: If you’re buying a fresh bird, don’t get it more than two days ahead of time. Frozen turkeys will keep up to a year in the freezer.
  • Never thaw the bird at room temperature; leave yourself lots of time for this process. You can thaw frozen turkey in the fridge, in a water bath or use a combination of methods. Don’t use the microwave, which can provide uneven and sometimes unpalatable results.
  • To catch the juices, make sure your pan is at least 2 ½ inches (6.35 cm) deep and lined with a roasting rack to keep the bird above the drippings.
  • Using a proper meat thermometer, begin checking for doneness about three-quarters of the way through roasting.
  • The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the inner thigh reads 180°F (85°C) for a stuffed turkey or 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of the meal. Store turkey and stuffing separately.
  • Turkey is an excellent lean meat choice. It’s a great source of protein, phosphorus, selenium, niacin and vitamin B6 and is low in saturated fats.
  • Removing the skin eliminates one-third to one-half of the fat of various turkey cuts.
  • Ground turkey has less fat than ground chicken or even extra lean ground beef.
  • The light meat has about half the fat of dark meat. Although both are good choices, white meat is even leaner.

Did you know?

  • Turkey is the only native poultry breed of the Western Hemisphere.
  • Turkeys have great hearing skills but no ears.
  • Turkeys have poor sense of smell but great sense of taste.
  • The largest turkey on record was 86 pounds.

Cranberries: Cranberries were once mostly associated with the holidays, but in the last decade or so they have become increasingly versatile and are available fresh, dried, canned and frozen. Consider visiting Muskoka-based Johnston’s Cranberries, one of the largest cranberry producers in the province, to pick up this delicious fruit for your Thanksgiving feast. Johnston’s Cranberries is also home to the award-winning Muskoka Lakes Winery, whose cranberry wine is excellent served with turkey.


Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast

Filled with the nutritious goodness of spinach and creamy texture of ricotta, this turkey breast is a taste sensation.

6 slices of bacon, 6
1 medium onion, diced 1
1 turkey breast, skinless and boneless, approx 3 lbs 1
1 cup chicken stock 250 mL
1 large onion, sliced 1
2 tbsp oil 30 mL
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped and very well drained 250 mL
1 cup ricotta cheese 250 mL
1/2 parmesan cheese, shredded 125 mL
1 egg 1
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp coarse salt 10 mL
2 tsp paprika 10 mL
2 tsp Dijon mustard 10 mL
2 tsp garlic, minced 10 mL

Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C) * you will need butcher twine for this recipe.

In a pan, fry bacon until slightly crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, sauté onions until softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

To prepare stuffing, combine all stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and set aside

To prepare glaze, blend all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

To butterfly the turkey breast, slice down the centre of the breast lengthwise to half the depth of the breast. Open the slice and slide your knife to the left of the breast sideways leaving 1” of meat at the end and creating a flap or pouch. Repeat this step to the right of the breast until you are able to “open” the two flaps like a butterfly.

Line the butterfly breast inside with the bacon slices. Layer in the sautéed onions and then the stuffing. Close the butterfly by folding the ends in and then folding the flaps together. Tie the whole breast with butcher twine around until the breast is closed tight. Rub the breast with the glaze.

Heat a large oven-proof pot over medium with two tablespoons of oil. Brown the turkey on all sides and remove. Add chicken stock and deglaze the pot (scrape the brown bits of flavor into the stock). Layer the sliced onion on the bottom of the pot and place the turkey on top. Cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Remove from pot. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes, slice, spoon over the pan drippings and onions and serve!

Serves 6.
Prep Time: 30 minutes.
Cooking Time:  45-60 minutes.

Best Ever Fiesta Turkey Chili

This rich and robust ragu is simple to make and easy on the budget. Pair with a fresh salad drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a slice of warm crusty bread for a hearty meal.

3 tbsp olive oil 45 mL
1 large onion, diced 1
6 stalks celery, diced 6
1 tbsp garlic, minced 15 mL
6 tbsp chili powder 89 mL
2 tsp each ground cumin, dried oregano, dried basil 10 mL
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2.5 mL
1 bay leaf 1
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional) 1
1 1/2 lbs ground Turkey 680 g
2 cups roasted red peppers, chopped 500 mL
2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed 500 mL
2 cups red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 500 mL
4 cups diced tomatoes with juice 1 L
1/2 cup tomato paste 125 mL
2 cups frozen corn 500 mL
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium, heat olive oil and then sauté onion and celery until softened. Add spices and sauté for five more minutes until mixture is fragrant. Add ground turkey and sauté until meat is cooked and slightly browned. Add roasted peppers, beans, tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add corn and simmer for 15 more minutes. Serve

Great with Pita Chips and a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of shredded cheddar!

Makes approx 12- 1 1/4 cup servings. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.


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  1. […] most people think of it as Turkey Day… tips on cooking the big bird. [Yummy […]

    Posted by Taste T.O. – Food & Drink In Toronto » Lucky Dip – Tuesday, October 5th | October 5, 2010, 5:01 pm
  2. Great facts and tips.

    Posted by Phil the Foodie | October 6, 2010, 10:35 am