Ever wonder what a chef’s home smells like on Turkey Day? Well, we did, so we decided to ask five Toronto chefs what their Thanksgiving Day looks like. We got some interesting answers!
Chef Jason Robins – The Citizen
“I have to be honest, I never cook Thanksgiving dinner. I am always my wife’s sous chef for major family holidays. That being said, whenever we brainstorm for Thanksgiving, I am always throwing out the anti-turkey suggestions. My favourite “all-in-one Thanksgiving dinner” is a beer-brined Cornish hen — roasted whole with the entire side cooked in the hen’s cavity. It’s topped with compound butter, served with an oil-poached Kumato tomato, and an autumn gravel of roasted pecans, dried cranberries, and yellow sultana raisins. Oh, and a beautiful whole-roasted clove of elephant garlic.”
Chef Murray Gregg – The Shore Club
“For me, I try not to focus on the turkey. I know it’s the main focus of any table at Thanksgiving and, yes, there are several ways to cook your bird. You can brine it, deep-fry it, stuff it, wrap it, or rub it with butter or bacon. Herb-crust, salt-crust — the list goes on and on. I like to focus on the supporting roles… the sides!
Year after year, I really look forward to making the turkey dressing (stuffing). I’ve never made the same one twice — there’s no need too. For me, this is how I judge any Thanksgiving dinner. Something so simple — yet, so complicated to finish properly. If it’s too wet, it doesn’t absorb the gravy and turkey juices properly and becomes dry and stale… you can end up cutting your mouth. What are the textures and how does it accompany the other items on the table, you ask? The dressing truly pulls the meal together. And day 2 is my favourite because I always make too much… best leftovers in the fridge!”
Chef Dorian King – Canyon Creek
“My wife loves turkey. She will jump at any opportunity to prepare turkey – Thanksgiving, Christmas, back-to-school… you name it! With her passion for turkey, she takes the reigns and becomes the head chef of the household on Thanksgiving. Of course, taking the lead means she can get me to do most of the work like a good sous chef should.
On Thanksgiving this year we will stick with a traditional selection. We usually order a fresh free-range turkey from the St. Lawrence Market, picking up fresh organic vegetables and potatoes on the same trip. This year, we’re planning on golden beets and tri-coloured carrots, but we will see what the market has to offer. There will be a traditional pan gravy, home-made cranberry sauce, and a pork & long grain brown rice dressing using field mushrooms, fresh thyme, and marjoram. For dessert, there will be pumpkin crème brûlée and an apple crumble with vanilla gelato.
The key to any Thanksgiving dinner is to cook the turkey just right. How many times over the years have you had dry turkey and refused to say anything but how perfect it was? Use a thermometer and test the turkey in the middle near the bone. Do not overcook… for the love of Thanksgiving!”
Chef Chris Kalisperas – The Forth
“Things get busy day-to-day, so my favourite part of any holiday is always getting the chance to sit around the table with my family over a great meal. Thanksgiving is usually a small, intimate dinner spent at my father-in-law’s. He’s an incredible cook, so I usually leave it up to him, but I’ll always take care of carving the turkey. We keep it pretty traditional – turkey with stuffing, potatoes, squash, and lots of root vegetables.”
Chef Vittorio Colacitti – The Good Son (and former Top Chef Canada contestant)
“Thanksgiving is a huge deal in my family. My mom always cooked the whole dinner until recently when I started helping out. I’m now in charge of the turkey. For me, a good quality turkey is rule No. 1. Ideally hormone-free, grain-fed, air-chilled turkey. I save the bind — this really helps keep it moist. The other key is to start with a high-temperature oven. Then drop the heat substantially. The next — maybe most important — rule is to rest the bind on a raised wine rack at room temperature uncovered. Usually, I rest for 1/3 cooking time (i.e. cook 3 hrs, rest 1 hr).
Do you have a turkey recipe you want to share? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe!