The tradition of the Thanksgiving dinner table speaks to our colonial past, but who is to say we can’t update the traditions to be more reflective of the current cultural diversity of Atlantic Canada. Atlantic Canadians have long opened their doors to immigrants from around the globe. As we experience our first COVID Thanksgiving, is there a better time to celebrate the good fortune of being Atlantic Canadian and give thanks to all the people that make up our community?
I’ve created a Thanksgiving table better reflecting the diversity of cultures that make up our population. Remember to entertain responsibly this weekend.
5 turkey tips
- Be fresh. Buy fresh turkey instead of frozen turkey. The freezing process invariably removes moisture from the turkey.
- Brine the bird. Pat dry your turkey with paper towel, then place in a sealable container large enough to hold the bird. For a basic brine cover the turkey with salted and sugared water. Use the ratio of 8 cups water, to 2 cups salt, to 1 cup sugar for best results. Make sure there is enough brine to cover the turkey. Brine for at least 24 hours. To add a little flare add in some of the herbs and spices you plan on seasoning the bird with.
- Bigger is not better. Remember the bigger the turkey, the more cooking time, and the more likely it will be to dry out. If you have a really large group, it’s better to buy two than 1 super-sized bird.
- Stuff it without the stuffing: Instead of filling the turkey with stuffing, stuff it with orange and lemon halves.
- Baste, baste, baste: As your turkey is cooking baste with the pan juices every 20 to 30 minutes.
Middle Eastern Za'atar & Honey Glazed Roasted Turkey
Recipe supplied by Turkey Farmers of Canada
10 to 12 Servings
1 9-lb whole turkey, fresh
1 cup za’atar seasoning*, divided
1/2 cup kosher (or sea) salt, plus a few pinches
2 tbsp sumac powder**
1/2 cup salted butter, divided
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2-3 oranges, halved
2 lemons, halved
Directions: Pat dry your turkey inside and out. Make a dry brine by mixing 1/2 cup za’atar, salt and sumac powder. Cover the underside of the turkey, then the breast side, passing the mixture onto the sides or places it will not stick. Also rub some of the brine inside the cavity. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours, give or take, before cooking. Rinse the turkey of its brine, then rub with 1/4 cup soft butter all over the breast side. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, with a rack, along with 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey and tie the legs together if you wish. Preheat oven to 425 ̊ F and then cook the turkey for 40 minutes, or until the skin has browned all over, with the breast towards the back of the oven. While the turkey is cooking, over low heat whisk together honey and remaining butter in a small saucepan and set aside. At this point, lower the oven temperature to 300 ̊ F. Depending on the size of the turkey your cook time will vary, but using a meat thermometer is the safest way to know you are not overcooking your turkey (thermometer will read 180 ̊ F) at thickest part of the thigh when cooked. When there is about 1 hour left of cooking, begin taking the turkey out every 20 minutes and brushing all over with honey butter glaze and sprinkling with za’atar and salt. Repeatedly baste the turkey with the glaze until the turkey is cooked. Let cool for 20 minutes before carving, and then slowly reheat pieces for serving.
*Za’atar is a traditional spice mix used in the Middle East to season meat, vegetables and sometimes hummus. To make the za’atar seasoning combine 3 tablespoons each dried thyme, cumin, coriander seeds and toasted sesame seeds with ½ tablespoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes.
Multicultural Sides: bring diversity to the table
Native Canadian Luskinikn Bread and Wild Rice Stuffing
8 to 12 Servings
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups milk, warm
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup butter
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups wild rice, cooked*
Directions: Start by making the bread. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Kneed into a dough. Form into an oval shape. Place on a baking sheet. Bake in oven preheated to 400 F for 30 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven to 350 F. Cut bread into cubes (you will need approximately 8 to 10 cups) and place in a large bowl. Place butter, onion and celery in a large sauté pan. Sauté until onion and celery are soft. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add to the bowl of bread and toss. Add sage and dried cranberries to bowl and toss. Add half of the stock and toss. Season generously with salt and pepper. Whisk together remaining stock and egg. Add to bowl and toss. Transfer the bread mixture to a greased baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes covered. Remove and bake another 5 minutes uncovered.
*Wild rice takes about an hour and half to cook. Start the rice just before making the bread.
Spanish-Style Potato Croquettes
Makes 18 large croquettes
3 cups mashed potatoes (approximately about 6 medium potatoes)
3/4 cup grated Manchego cheese (or Parmesan)
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp water
2 cups breadcrumbs
Directions: In a bowl combine mashed potatoes, cheese, paprika and thyme. Roll the mashed potato into bowls. Place on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Place flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs with water. In a third bowl add panko breadcrumbs. One at a time at potato balls to flour. Shake off excess. Roll in egg wash. Shake off excess. Finally, roll in the panko breadcrumbs. Repeat until all the potato balls are covered in breadcrumbs. Place a deep sided sauté pan, filled to ½-inch depth with vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke (350 F), fry balls in batches, turning often, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain excess oil.
Tip: Serve this an elegant appetizer. Purée traditionally cranberry sauce until smooth. Brush onto plates. Top with croquettes and microgreens.
Latin American Roast Squash
8 to 10 servings
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp agave syrup*
½ tsp powdered cumin
2 acorn squash, quartered, seeds removed
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cracked pepper
1 cup plain yogurt
1 chipotle in adobe
1 lime, juice, zest
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Directions: Preheat oven to 400F. Combine the melted butter, agave syrup and cumin. Brush squash quarters with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the slices skin side down on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet on middle rack of oven and roast for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile make a chipotle yogurt sauce by blending the chipotle in adobe with the yogurt, lime juice, lime zest and pinch of salt. To serve place pieces of squash on a platter and drizzle with chipotle yogurt sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
*If you can’t find agave syrup use brown sugar or maple syrup.
Indian Carrots and Peas (Gajar Matar)
8 to 12 servings
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tsp turmeric
3 cups carrots, diced
3 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
1 ½ tsp garam masala
Pinch chili powder
Directions: Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add carrots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peas, garam masala, chili powder and water. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until carrots and peas are tender.
Italian-Inspired Pancetta and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
8 to 12 Servings
1 ½ - 2 lb large Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, trimmed, halved
1/2 lemon, juice, zest
1 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup pancetta, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan*, grated
Directions: Place Brussels sprouts in baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and olive oil. Pour oil mixture over sprouts and season generously with salt and pepper. Top with pancetta and place in an oven preheated to 400 F. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes. The pancetta should be crispy and the sprouts slightly charred. Place in a bowl or serving platter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
*Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano preferred.
Pumpkin Pie with Middle Eastern Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
3 threads saffron*
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp rosewater
1/3 cup pistachio, toasted, chopped
Directions: Place saffron and half cup of heavy cream in a pot. Simmer to infuse the saffron into the cream for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and chill. Place chilled saffron cream, sugar, vanilla, rosewater and remaining cream in a bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form. To serve spread topping over pumpkin pie and sprinkle with pistachios.
*You may omit the saffron. Simply place all the cream and remaining ingredients, except pistachios, in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.
Broaden Your Thanksgiving Wine Horizons
German Riesling and French Pinot Noir are classic Thanksgiving tablemates, but there is more to the wine world than traditional euro-centric offerings.
The wine world long admonished non-European (Vitis vinifera) vines. It’s time to embrace our native American fruits and vines and multi-species lineage of the French-American hybrids that dominate the vineyards of Atlantic Canada. A great way to start any meal is a local sparkling wine. Nova Scotia L’Acadie Vineyards focused on Traditional Method bubbles crafted using local vines such as L’Acadie Blanc. Maritime vintners are also placing bets on Marquette, a complex hybrid of Pinot Noir and various native American vine species to be our Pinot Noir substitute. In the cooler environment of Newfoundland and Labrador, local vintners rely on native fruits such as Cranberry (Rodriques Cranberry Wine, NLC, $15.52) to bring the flavours of the season to your table.
L’Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvée (NSLC, $34.99)
Mercator Reserve Marquette (Select NSLC, $34.99)
Rodriques Cranberry Wine (NLC, $15.52)
Lebanese and Israeli Wines
While Lebanon may not register as a classic wine producing country, thanks to producers such as Ksara, Chateau Musar and others there is a small but strong tradition of winemaking. Lebanon’s high elevation Bekaa Valley is the epicenter of fine wine production in Lebanon. Across the border in Israel, the Golan Heights offers a similar high-quality terroir suitable for fine wine production.
Chateau Ksara Blanc de L’Observatoire (Select NSLC, $19.99)
Yarden Mount Hermon Red (Select NSLC, $25.72)
Chateau Musar (PEILCC, $64.99)
Social justice is leading to changes in the South African wine industry. The number of South African black-owned wine labels remains small (a recent article by Wine Enthusiast magazine identified forty) but diversification within the wine industry is showing great signs of growth. Locally, the most widely available black-owned and operated wine company is House of Mandela (operated by Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandel, the daughter and granddaughter of Nelson Mandela). The aromatic richness of House of Mandela Phumla Blanc, made from Chenin Blanc, has all the elements to stand up to the rich flavours of my multicultural Thanksgiving table.
House of Mandela Phumla Blanc (Select NSLC, $29.99)
Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. You can subscribe to his Follow a Foodie newsletter here.
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