Tips for prepping & cooking your Thanksgiving turkey

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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest and, a time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, and for many of us, a time to gather with family and friends to share a meal. While we may all have different traditions as to what should be on the Thanksgiving menu, many tables will feature a roasted whole turkey at the centre. Here are some tips to help you successfully prepare and cook your Thanksgiving turkey.

THAWING

If your turkey is frozen, leave the turkey in the original package and choose one of the following methods to thaw your turkey. Do not thaw turkey at room temperature.

REFRIGERATOR METHOD

This method is preferred, as it keeps the turkey meat cold until it is completely defrosted. Leave turkey in original plastic wrapper. Place turkey in refrigerator on a tray with sides (this is helpful to catch any liquid that escapes during defrosting). Allow 5 hours per pound (10 hours/kg) defrosting time.

COLD WATER METHOD

Cover the turkey completely with cold water (the sink is a good place for this). Change water at least every hour – we recommend refreshing water every 30 minutes. Allow 1 hour per pound (2 hours/kg) defrosting time. Turkey should be cooked as soon as it is thawed and held in the fresh state for the minimum time possible to discourage bacterial growth.

CLEANING

• Wash hands thoroughly in hot soapy water before handling raw meat
• Remove plastic wrap from thawed turkey
• Remove neck and giblets from body cavity
• Rinse turkey well inside and out with cold water (optional)
• Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels
• Do not let raw meat juices touch ready-to-eat foods, either in the refrigerator or during preparation
• Do not put cooked foods on the same plate that held raw product
• Wash and sanitize any utensils, dishes or surfaces used for cutting turkey
• Keep cutting board and utensils in good repair as they can harbour bacteria inside cracks and crevices

COOKING

There are different points of view on the best way to cook a whole turkey. To brine or not to brine (click here for brining tips)? To flip or not to flip? One of the most common methods is to place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tent loosely with aluminum foil. Roast in 325ºF (160ºC) oven until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180ºF (82ºC) for a stuffed turkey or 170ºF (77ºC) for an unstuffed turkey. For golden skin, remove foil tent for last hour of roasting.

You can find a helpful guide to cooking times depending on the size of your turkey on the Turkey Farmers of Ontario website.

When turkey is done, transfer to warm platter. Tent with foil and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows time for juices at the surface of the bird to distribute evenly throughout the meat. Remove all stuffing from cavity. Carve turkey. Enjoy!

Visit http://makesitsuper.ca/ for more tips and tasty recipe ideas from the Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

Creamy Leftover Turkey Soup

Creamy YVF Turkey Stew 3 - Version 2

This recipe comes to the YVF Kitchen courtesy of YVF team member Amberlee, who brought this to the office for lunch the week after Thanksgiving. Her soup was a big hit with the YVF crew, so we wanted to share with the YVF community so that you too could enjoy this tasty way to use up extra turkey meat.

Amberlee also explains how she makes her own turkey broth for this soup. Homemade broth is really versatile, so you can make a big batch and then store extra broth in the fridge or freezer. Substitute into your favourite recipes instead of water for a flavour boost – try using broth instead of water when cooking rice or grains.

Creamy leftover turkey soup
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery ribs with leaves, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4-5 small potatoes, cut into small cubes
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp each dried parsley flakes, herbs de Provence, and ground sage
1 tsp fresh thyme, stems removed
1-1/2 cups milk
4 cups cooked Yorkshire Valley Farms organic turkey, cut into bite-size pieces
5 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups homemade turkey broth (See note below regarding turkey broth. Alternatively, you can substitute chicken stock.)
2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup half-and-half cream (optional)

Heat butter and olive oil in a large soup pot. Sauté onion, celery and potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually add milk and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add broth. Add turkey meat and carrots. Add more broth, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add peas. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Finish with cream, if using.

Tip: Don’t use purple potatoes or carrots for this soup. While they are a fun way to add colour to other dishes, they will turn your soup an unpleasant greyish colour.

Homemade turkey broth
1 Yorkshire Valley Farms organic turkey carcass
1 onion, quartered
3 celery ribs with leaves, quartered
10 peppercorns
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp dried ground sage
water

Put all ingredients into a large soup pot. Add enough water to cover turkey carcass. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and allow to simmer for 1-1/2 hours. We suggest you hold off on adding salt during the cooking process. This gives your broth more versatility for use in a variety of dishes and avoids over-salting. Adjust the seasoning when you add the broth to your desired recipe.

To store extra broth, allow to cool and then transfer into containers for storage in the fridge. Broth can also be frozen. Skim fat off the top before freezing. To cool broth quickly, fill sink with cold water and set pot into sink. Change water after 10 minutes, if necessary, until broth is fully cooled.

Spending the Holidays with Fidel Gastro’s Matt Basile

During the summer we had the pleasure of working with Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro’s. We got to see first-hand how he jumps from Priscilla (his beloved food truck) to Lisa Marie (his beloved restaurant), while filming Rebel Without A Kitchen on Travel + Escape  in between. It got us thinking, what would the holidays look like for a guy like him? So, we asked!

The Original Lisa Marie Family

The Original Lisa Marie Family

Not too far off from his day-to-day life, being surrounded by food and people is what Matt looks forward to the most once the holidays come around. Some of his favourite dishes he’ll bring to the table are lemon butter roasted turkey breast, slow roasted beef tenderloin and grilled large shrimps in tomato gravy. We sure would love to have a seat at his Thanksgiving or Christmas table!

Since turkey is usually the main event at any holiday meal, we asked Matt to give us some advice on how to make it with a hint of Olé!

“Make sure you season the turkey well before it goes in the oven and that you’re basting the turkey every 45 minutes to an hour after the first hour of cooking.”

A Fidel Gastro's Yorkshire Valley Farms Organic Turkey

A Fidel Gastro’s Yorkshire Valley Farms Organic Turkey

After sitting down from a day of cooking, with a glass of wine in-hand, Matt will set all his worries aside and focus on what’s right in front of him; family, friends and food.

His most memorable holiday moment was the first time he hosted Christmas for his family, just a few years ago. Matt says,

“I did all the food planning,  the Chris Kringle and even the sorry looking Christmas tree. It felt good to give back.”
Matt continued giving back to his family and sharing the holiday spirit, this past Thanksgiving. He and his partner hosted both of their families at Lisa Marie, which brought both sides together to celebrate.
Fidel Gastro's Matt Basile & Kyla Zanardi

Fidel Gastro’s Matt Basile & Kyla Zanardi

Turkey Time With Tim deWit, Our Organic Turkey Farmer

The time of year has come when our organic turkeys are available to be cooked up, roasted and devoured amongst family and friends. We figured what better way to kick off the turkey season than to bring you our organic turkey farmers, Tim and Katrina deWit.

The deWits and their three young children operate an organic turkey, sheep and cash crop farm in Oxford County, just west of the town of Ingersoll. Tim and Katrina have been in the turkey growing business for 12 years and for the last 3, they’ve been growing organic turkeys for Yorkshire Valley Farms.

deWit family

The deWit Family

Tim and his family got involved in organic turkey farming because they enjoy the challenge of trying out new ways of raising turkeys or growing crops. Not to mention, it’s a sustainable model when they can grow both livestock and crops organically. The deWits believe that organic farming fits well with their farming practices and they’re always looking at new opportunities to supply healthy food to growing markets. A perfect fit for Yorkshire Valley Farms!

deWit Farm

The deWit Farm

Why is it important to buy organic turkey for your holiday meals? Take it from the organic turkey farmer himself, it comes down to how the turkey has been raised.

“When you are buying an organic turkey you are getting a bird that has been able to live out its life as nature intended it to.  Organic turkeys have access to pasture, they’ve been fed certified organic feed, free from GMO grains, pesticide contamination, and antibiotics.  Consumers should also know that when they are buying a Yorkshire Valley Farm organic turkey, they are supporting a local family farm in Ontario.  95% of the labour involved in growing our organic turkeys are done by our family.”

Knowing how stressful it can be to prepare a turkey, and how to cook the turkey without drying it out, Tim gave us the inside scoop on the deWit way of holding those juices in.

“Our family’s favourite way to prepare a whole bird is to deep fry it in a turkey deep fryer.  It may sound unhealthy but deep frying actually seals the turkeys natural flavor and juices in making for a great tasting bird in about and hour.  A lot of turkey tips including how to deep fry at www.turkeyrecipes.ca.”

There’s never a dull moment when working on a turkey farm, especially for Tim and Katrina. Every so often, their kids love to help out mom and pop in the barn. Tim shares a moment when his daughter, Charlotte, spent a day at work with him.

“My youngest daughter (who was 4yrs old at the time) was in the barn with me shortly after receiving our day old baby poults from the hatchery.  She loves to help me in the barn with the baby turkeys and will spend hours playing with them.  I didn’t realize this but she actually hid a baby turkey under her sweater when she left the barn.  My wife Katrina called me a few hours later after she discovered her playing with this turkey up in her room.”

Charlotte deWit

Charlotte deWit