I don’t know about you, but September seemed to fly by in a week. October has arrived and I’m a little unprepared. To my fellow Canadians, it’s time to get ready for Thanksgiving. Let’s embrace the second week of October with extra TLC, from making the perfect turkey dinner, to bonding around the table, to finding new games that everyone wants to play.
Americans, whose Thanksgiving is so close to Christmas, the focus is to eat gluttonously and then hit up the Black Monday sales. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a serious sport. For Canadians, however, this holiday is all about spending quality time with family.
The ultimate turkey
Let the countdown to turkey begin. I’m always excited to eat this bird, especially if it’s prepared with skill. If you feel intimidated by the task ahead, don’t worry. Our lifestyle editor, Shelly Wutke, has written a great post on what you need to know to make a delicious turkey at your cooking comfort level.
Let’s start off with the ultimate turkey recipe, Herb and Garlic by Chatelaine. Get generous on the seasoning and of course the butter, with a dash of garlic to make this turkey flavorful. Good think is that the prep time is only 30 minutes.
3 tbsp butter
, at room temperature
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
6 kg turkey
- POSITION oven rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat to 400F. Place a rack in a roasting pan. Stir butter with herbs, garlic and salt in a small bowl.
- WASH and dry turkey well. Discard giblets. Rub butter mixture underneath and over skin of turkey. Transfer turkey to rack in pan. Bend and tuck wings under the bird. Cover tightly with foil.
- ROAST in bottom third of oven for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 325F. Roast for another hour, then remove foil. Continue roasting, uncovered, basting occasionally, until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 175F, about 45 more min, for a total cook time of about 15 min per 500 g. Transfer turkey to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and let rest at least 25 min before carving.
Though turkey is flavourful on its own (especially with the recipe above), gravy is a guilty pleasure. Your family will cry if it isn’t on the table, so definitely get the ingredients to put on your cooking list. As you know, I have a thing for spiking meals with Bourbon, if you haven’t read my recent post, you’ll love these recipes. I decided to find a Bourbon Gravy recipe and must thank Real Simple for it.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
kosher salt and black pepper
roasting pan and its contents, from the Cider-Glazed Turkey
1/2 cup bourbon or dry white wine
- Make the gravy base: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups of the broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Discard the vegetables from the reserved roasting pan and strain the pan drippings into a large measuring cup or bowl. You should have about 1½ cups of liquid. Let stand for 5 minutes, then skim off and discard the fat. (Alternatively, use a fat separator.)
- Place the empty roasting pan across 2 burners. Add the bourbon and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up the bits stuck to the pan, for 1 minute. Add to the gravy base in the saucepan, along with the strained drippings, and cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Strain, if desired, and adjust the consistency with additional broth if necessary before serving.
Mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts
To mash or not to mash? When it comes to potatoes, the family has to vote on the recipe. I’ve had the opportunity to crash other families’ Thanksgiving feasts when I couldn’t go home or just wanted more than one dinner, and mash potatoes are a fan favourite. Personally, I love mash potatoes with lots of flavour other than tonnes of butter. Especially, herbs like rosemary, chives, thyme, etc. Which is why I’m inclined to share this amazing recipe from Williams-Sonoma, “Mashed Potatoes with Herb-Infused Cream and Chives.”
The motto during Thanksgiving is “go big or go home,” but I love some greens on my plate, even if they’re coated with yummy dressings and sauces. I understand that vegetables like Brussels sprouts have a mix review at the dinner table. But if we turn to Martha Stewart, we can find our self-making this spectacular recipe “Baby Brussels Sprouts with Wild Rice and Pecans.”
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Stir in wild rice, reduce to a simmer, and cook (uncovered) until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain rice.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Toast pecans, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer pecans to a plate, and season with salt.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the pearl onions, and 1/2 cup water to pan; simmer until water is evaporated and onions are tender and pale golden, about 10 minutes.
Trim brussels sprouts, then score an X into the bottom of each one. Place in a steaming basket or colander set in a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and steam until just tender enough to pierce with the tip of a sharp knife, 6 to 8 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard. Add rice, brussels sprouts, and onions; toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop pecans and add just before serving, warm or at room temperature.
All I have to say is make sure to wear stretchy pants or just sweatpants. Unless, you’re cool with unbuttoning your jeans to give your food belly some space.
Now that everyone is at the table eating your spectacular dinner, what do you talk about? First and foremost, get rid of the phones or tablets. You’ve worked hard in the kitchen and you want your family to pay attention. However, if a family member can’t make it for Thanksgiving, FaceTime or Skype is the answer. These are moments when we are grateful for technology. Make sure to get an iPad stand so your family member can sit virtually at the table. Check out this one from iKlip.
Now, if conversation is a bit of a challenge, partially because people are busy stuffing their faces, this GIF of Mr. Bean sums up my eating habits. Instead of posing mundane questions like “how’s work” or “what are you doing tomorrow?” get creative and ask:
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- If you could be a famous person for a week, who would you be and why?
- If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
- If you had one wish (and you can’t ask for more wishes), what would you choose and why?
- If you could eat just one food every day for a month and nothing else, what would it be?
For more discussion topics, check out Six Sisters Stuffed.
After binge eating and nearly falling into a food coma, it’s time to get out a game to play before everyone crashes on the couch. I’m not sure if it’s considered a game, but everyone loves to sing, even if he or she sounds like Rosanne Bar. Singing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” the Backstreet Boys’ “Tell Me Why,” or a classic from the Rolling Stones can get people in a high-energy mood and might be good for a laugh. Karaoke machines don’t cost that much, so check out this one from Singing Machine.
Now, if you have Apple TV, go to YouTube, choose a song title, and add “karaoke” to the search. Get a wireless mic so everyone can sing his or her heart out. Personally, my favourite karaoke song is “Like a Prayer” by Madonna.
If your family likes The Big Bang Theory, they’ll love the latest edition of Clue. Essentially, you’ll be helping Sheldon discover which of his so-called friends committed the heinous crime.
Or you can play Monopoly, a classic board game that everyone will enjoy. The franchise has expanded to include new versions such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Golf, Muhammad Ali, or even the Rolling Stones. Take your pick or just get the original. Now that everyone has enjoyed some quality time with the family, it might be the perfect time to discuss the next get-together: Christmas. Ahhh yes, you’ve probably already noticed the red and green decorations at the mall. But it’s the opportunity to discuss what everyone wants underneath the tree. As well as planning how the family will be spending time together.
Have a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and family, and if you need some supplies for your long weekend, check these out:
Cuisinart Roasting Pan
iKlip Stand for iPad
Singing Machine Kareoke