How to Roast a Turkey

Easter is coming up quickly, and many families roast a turkey instead of a ham – it’s perfect for feeding a crowd, and provides an excuse to make (and eat) stuffing! If you have a turkey on your menu this weekend, here’s a refresher. We took some guidance from local experts Darrel Winter and Corinne Dahm, who have been raising free range turkeys in the small hamlet of Dalemead, 20 minutes south of Calgary, since 1977, in the same house Darrel grew up in.

Thawing: To quickly thaw a frozen turkey, place it (still wrapped) in a deep sink or a large container, such as a cooler or Tupperware bin, and cover completely with cold water. Allow 1 hour per pound of turkey (2 hours per kg) to thaw. Alternatively, sit it in a large roasting pan (to catch any drips) in the refrigerator and allow 5 hours per pound (10 hours per kg) – keep in mind that large birds can take days to thaw.

Stuffing: Spoon stuffing loosely into the cavity of the bird just before roasting; never pack it tight or stuff your turkey the day before. When you’re ready to eat, remove the stuffing before carving and if you like, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly heated through. Alternatively, bake your dressing in a casserole dish alongside your turkey, and stuff a handful of fresh herbs, a halved head of garlic and/or lemon into the cavity instead. Unstuffed turkeys will cook more quickly.

Seasoning: Place the bird breast side up on a rack in roasting pan, pat dry with a paper towel and rub the skin with soft butter or canola oil. Season the skin and inside the cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, thyme, rosemary or your favourite herbs and spices. If you’re using one, insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful to not touch the bone.

Roasting: Cover loosely with foil or a lid and roast in a preheated 325° oven. The general rule of thumb for oven cooking a stuffed turkey at 325° F is 15 minutes per pound (30 minutes per kg). If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven – once an hour is sufficient. Begin checking for doneness about one hour before the end of the recommended roasting time, and keep in mind that fresh turkeys cook faster. Uncover about an hour before the end of the cooking time for crispy, golden skin. Your turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into meaty part of the inner thigh reads 180° F for a stuffed turkey or 170° F for an unstuffed turkey. Temperature is the best indication of doneness, as the juices may still have a slight pink tinge.

Resting: Cover your turkey loosely with foil and let it stand for at least 15 minutes while you make the gravy – this will help retain its juices, keeping the meat tender and easier to carve.

Sticky Honey-Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

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Chicken drumsticks are my son’s favourite – and if I’m honest, I secretly love them too. They’re inexpensive, perfect for eating with your fingers, and are like a meatier version of chicken wings – more meat, less skin, but still wonderfully, finger-lickin’ sticky. I recently tried a version with honey and garlic – my favourite style of chicken wing – and they were a dinnertime hit.

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Leftover Turkey Dinner Braid

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Let’s face it – the best part about a turkey dinner is the leftovers, particularly turned into a sandwich. Combining the turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries in Pillsbury Crescent dough turned out to be a delicious idea – like a sandwich, only better! Read More

Madras Chicken Skewers

Madras Chicken Skewers
Marinate the chicken overnight, and you're good to go the next day
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Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 4
  2. Marinade
  3. 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise 75 mL
  4. 1⁄3 cup mango chutney 75 mL
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced 2
  6. 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 25 mL
  7. 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 25 mL
  8. 1 tsp chili powder 5 mL
  9. 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin 2 mL
  10. 1⁄2 tsp ground coriander 2 mL
  11. 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 mL
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet to flatten. Cut chicken into 1-inch (2.5 cm) long strips.
  2. Marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, chutney, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, coriander and salt.
  3. Add chicken to marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Soak eight 10-inch (25 cm) wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes (or use metal skewers). Meanwhile, preheat barbecue grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade, and thread onto skewers. Grill for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is browned and no longer pink inside.
  5. Serves 4.
  6. Tip: Watch the chicken carefully while you're grilling it - it will cook quickly.
  7. Variation: Apricot or peach jam may be used in place of the mango chutney.
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Creamy Grilled Tandoori Shrimp

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This here is a combination of things I love: shrimp, cream, citrus, spices. Fresh mint and cilantro. It’s like an easy sort of curry, but not heavy, and quick to toss on the grill. I love things that are easy to grill, and don’t require you to hover nervously with your tongs, meat thermometer at the ready. While the apple trees are in bloom, I’m inviting some friends and neighbours for mojitos in the back yard, and these will be on the menu.
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Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

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It’s January. It’s cold. It’s time for some good old fashioned comfort food.  This soul-satisfying classic is reassuringly familiar and easy on the budget – which  in the face of skyrocketing food prices and holiday Visa bills, is welcome in our kitchen any time.  Our  modern rendition of tuna fish casserole includes a nutritional boost of broccoli in a creamy basil sauce but still has all the comforting goodness you remember. Feel free to substitute  low sodium chicken broth and low-fat mozzarella to make this even healthier but if you can,  treat yourself to some good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s complex flavour will take this to a whole new level of gourmet comfort food. And if you can’t find fresh basil, dried is just fine. We’ve included the substitution for it below the recipe.Read More