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Eat Alberta First – Recipes for a Complete Turkey Dinner

a person holding a turkey on a platter

Whether you are cooking turkey dinner for the first or fortieth time, these Eat Alberta First Recipes for a Complete Turkey Dinner will be a great help. They are from our founder, Karen Anderson’s, new cookbook Eat Alberta First and they are sure to have some great tips for pulling it all off with panache. Have a delicious holiday from all of us at Alberta Food Tours.

Maple Brined Roast Turkey and Gravy

Makes: 6 to 10 servings plus leftovers

Takes: You need to start this recipe the day before you want to eat it in order to brine the turkey. Then, you’ll need 4 to 5 hours to roast the turkey and 1 hour to rest and carve it and make the gravy.

Head’s up: Brining a turkey is easy but, you need to start this the evening before you want to cook your bird. The extra effort is worth it because this Maple Soy Brine turns the turkey a deep bronze, keeps it moist and results in a deep, brown, rich gravy. The most important key to a great tasting turkey is to buy a fresh, local one that’s been raised with a great feed program and access to fresh air. 

What you need to gather: measuring cups and spoons, very large stockpot, knife, cutting board, roasting pan and rack, sieve, large measuring cup, saucepan

For the maple brine:

4 liters water

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup maple syrup

¾ cup Kosher salt

8 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh or 2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons sage

2 teaspoons summer savoury

1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic, smashed

For the turkey:

1 – 25 lb turkey 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons summer savoury

1 apple, halved

1 onion, halved

2 celery stalks

3 sprigs, fresh rosemary

3 sprigs, fresh thyme

1 cup apple juice

For the gravy:

½ cup apple juice

2 cups chicken stock

3 Tablespoons butter

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose. flour

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

What you need to do:

For the maple brine:

  1. Put the water, brown sugar, soy, maple syrup, salt, bay leaves, thyme, sage, summer savoury, black peppercorns and garlic in a large stock pot and place on high heat until it boils and the sugar and salt dissolve. 
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. Once cool, add the turkey as follows:
  3. Remove the giblets and neck from your turkey (reserve for stock if you like) and place it in the large stock. It should be covered with the liquid. 
  4. Store in the refrigerator overnight. When it’s time to cook the turkey, remove it from the pot, rinse it, pat it dry and proceed as indicated below.

For the Turkey:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  2. Rub the turkey inside and out with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and summer savoury. Fill the cavity with the apple, onion, celery, rosemary and thyme. Tie the legs together to close the cavity.
  3. Place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, add the apple juice to the pan and set in the preheated oven.
  4. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh reads 165ºF.
  5. Remove the turkey on its rack to a carving board when ready. Set the roasting pan and its juices aside. Remove the fruit and vegetables from the cavity and discard. Place a piece of foil over the turkey and allow it to rest while you are making gravy.

For the gravy:

  1. Pour any juices in the roasting pan through a sieve and into a large measuring cup. Place the roasting pan on medium-high heat and once hot, add the apple juice and scrape the bottom of the roasting pan to loosen any brown bits, then pour this liquid through the sieve and into the cup with the juices.
  2. Skim and discard any fat from the surface of juices. You should have at least 1 cup liquid. Add enough chicken stock to make 3 cups.
  3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned. 
  4. Whisk in the hot juices and bring to a boil. Add the soy, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Cook for 5 minutes more then taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Reduce the heat to low to keep the gravy warm until serving.
  5. Carve the turkey and arrange it on a platter. 

#EatAlbertaFirst Tip: I’ve visited TK Ranch, Sunworks, First Nature Farms, and Winter’s Turkeys and call these places the turkey spas for how well-cared for their birds are. They’re the gold standard.

a close up of mashed potatoes on a table

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Makes: 10 to 12 servings 

Takes: 30 minutes

To achieve fluffy mashed potatoes you need to start with the right potatoes. Choose Russets or Yukon Gold. Avoid water-logging them. No sitting overnight in water, prepped and waiting to be cooked. No leaving them cooked and sitting in water waiting to be mashed. Invest in a potato ricer and be rid of lumps forever. Be playful. Add cloves of garlic as you boil the water. Use half cream cheese or sour cream with the milk. Add bacon bits, diced jalapeno, chopped sauteed kale, grated cheese or herbs. Make a mash with half potatoes and half turnip, celeriac, squash or sweet potato. 

What you need to gather: potato peeler, knife, cutting board, large pot, oven mitts, tongs, potato ricer or masher, large bowl, small saucepan or microwavable measuring cup

5 lbs starchy potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold or Agria potatoes

2 teaspoons salt, divided evenly

1 cup milk

¾ cup butter, cubed

Pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon finely chopped herbs (parsley, dill and or chives), if desired

What you need to do:

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes so they are of equal size and place in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, bring to a boil on medium high heat and then reduce the heat to medium and keep them at a simmer until a knife inserted in the center comes out without any resistance – about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain and return the pot to the burner on low heat for just a minute to dry out any remaining liquid. Hold the stockpot handles with oven mitts, and gently shake the pan for about 1 minute to release some of the steam and moisture from the potatoes. Then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside, and your potatoes will be ready to pour through a potato ricer or mash.
  3. Heat the milk and butter in another saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave until the butter is melted and the milk is hot – about 1 to minutes. Add the pepper and any herbs if desired to this mixture. Set aside.
  4. Use tongs to transfer the potato pieces to a potato ricer and squeeze them through in batches to a large bowl. Fold in the milk and butter mixture with a spatula and return the “riced” potatoes to the pot or ideally, serve right away. If you don’t have a potato ricer, mash the potatoes in the pot with the milk and butter mixture.Transfer to a serving dish.

a turnip casserole on a table

Rutabaga Puff

Makes: 8 servings

Takes: 1 hour

This smells really good while you’re making it. It’s like a warm fuzzy of caramelizing root vegetables. Yum. And, for my in-laws, Gail and Erik Anderson, it’s become their favourite side at our family feasts. Make ahead alert: I love the taste but my favourite thing is you can make this ahead and keep in the freezer, uncooked, for up to a month. That’s a pretty sweet deal come feast day. Then, all you have to do is thaw it and pop it in the oven. Enjoying rutabagas is another way to enjoy an Alberta Signature Food, root vegetables.

What you need to gather: knife, cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, large deep-sided skillet, food processor, slotted spoon, spatula, casserole dish

¼ cup butter (plus more to butter the casserole dish)

1 onion, chopped

1 large rutabaga, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces

4 big carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces

1½ cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs, beaten slightly

Salt and pepper – to taste

1 cup pecans, chopped

Brown sugar to sprinkle over the top

What you need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter a casserole dish.
  2. Melt the butter in a large deep-sided skillet; stir in the onions and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the chopped rutabaga, carrots, stock and brown sugar and cook uncovered until very tender. 
  4. Transfer the veggies to a food processor with a slotted spoon.
  5. Boil the remaining liquid until only 1 Tablespoon remains.
  6. Add that reduced liquid to the veggies and process until smooth.
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.
  8. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
  9. Arrange the pecans around the edge of your dish and sprinkle the same with the brown sugar.
  10. Place the casserole dish in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. OR you can freeze the dish at this point or store in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If freezing, thaw on the counter before baking as noted above. 

a plate of green beans on a table

Green Beans with Herbs

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Takes: 15 minutes

I had these green beans with a roast chicken in the South of France and they were such a nice compliment to the poultry I always make them with turkey dinners now.

What you need to gather: large pot, large bowl, ice and cold water, lettuce spinner, paper towels, large skillet, measuring cups and spoons

2 lbs green beans

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup roasted red pepper, sliced – optional

¼ cup pine nuts – optional

What you need to do:

  1. Boil a large pot of water over high heat, add the green beans for 3 or 4 minutes or until tender-crisp then drain them and plunge them into a bowl of ice and cold water.
  2. Remove the beans once chilled, spin them in a lettuce spinner to dry them and wrap them in a paper towel. Place the wrapped beans in a plastic bag in the fridge until just before dinner.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat, add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the green beans and toss until coated and heated through, around 2 minutes and serve immediately.

a bowl of cranberries sitting on top of a wooden table


Cinnamon Orange Cranberry Sauce

Makes: 3 cups

Takes: 10 minutes

This is so easy. I love having fresh cranberries with turkey dinner. Of course, I still need a can of jellied cranberries, complete with the ridges from said can, for my husband. Make it Ahead: This can be made and refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a month ahead.

What you need to gather: knife, cutting board, zester, measuring cup, microwaveable bowl, storage or serving dish

1 orange

1 (300 gram) package fresh cranberries

1½ cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

What you need to do:

  1. Zest the orange and set the zest aside. Then use a knife to cut the remaining skin and pith away from the fruit inside. Finely chop the fruit, remove and discard any seeds and set aside. 
  2. Combine the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and fruit in a large microwave-able bowl.
  3. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stop and stir.
  4. Microwave for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the cranberries pop. Stir again and transfer to a serving dish or storage container.

Want to learn more about where to source Alberta local ingredients in 2024? Join us for our Calgary Farmers’ Market tours or book a private one for your group of eight or more at Happy New Year everyone from all of us at Alberta Food Tours.