A Twist on Traditional Turkey Dinner
Without the ability to gather ten or more people around the table, holiday dinners will look a little different this year. Take the opportunity to try some new things—they might stick around as new traditions. Turkey ‘with all the fixings’ can be a healthy dinner, with a few tweaks to classic recipes, and still maintain all the flavour and festiveness you love. And the best part is feeling good for a splurge on dessert!
Turkey breast (2-4 lbs, the higher amount being if it’s bone-in)
1 cup unsweetened apple cider
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 onion, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
2 leaves sage
1 Tbsp flour
1 loaf whole grain bread (the more stale the better—you could even use all your bread ends from the freezer), cut into 1 inch cubes and dried in a low oven for 30 minutes
1 tsp each dried thyme, sage, parsley
Optional additions: 1 beaten egg, 1 apple, cored & diced; ½ cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts; ½ cup water chestnuts
2 L chicken stock
1 lb russet potatoes
1 lb sweet potatoes (the orange ones!)
1 bulb garlic
Salt and pepper
1-2 lbs of your favourites (e.g. green beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, rutabaga, fennel)
Preheat oven to 350F. Place turkey breast in a roasting pan and coat with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery (all chopped) and rosemary and sage around the turkey breast. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. At the same time, wrap the bulb of garlic in aluminum foil and bake in oven for 40 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, heat the apple cider in a small pot on the stove. Simmer for 15 minutes or until it is reduced by half. Whisk in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Use this to baste the turkey regularly after the initial 30 minutes. Continue cooking the turkey for 30-60 minutes, longer depending on the size and if it’s on the bone. Verify it’s done by a thermometer reading of 74C internal temperature.
To make the stuffing, grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the bread and remaining chopped onion, carrot and celery. Add the dried thyme, sage and parsley as well as 1 cup of stock and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add optional ingredients if using (a beaten egg gives a more creamy texture) and a small amount more stock if it seems dry and not holding together. Mix well then spread in the baking dish. Cover with foil then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Prepare both types of potatoes by peeling and chopping them. Place in a large pot filled with water then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add 1 tsp salt and cook until tender. Drain water. Return to very low heat and add 1 cup of stock and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Remove roasted garlic from oven, discard foil and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the peel. Mash until very smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare vegetables by chopping and spreading on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the types of veggies, until tender.
Finally, when the turkey is done, place it on a cutting board and tent it with foil to rest for 10 minutes while making the gravy. Remove the vegetables and herbs and heat the roasting pan on the stovetop on medium low heat. When the oil in the pan starts to bubble lightly, sprinkle in the flour and stir well, smoothing out any lumps. After 1 or 2 minutes, add up to 2 cups of stock gradually, stirring continually. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper then transfer into a gravy boat. Slice the turkey and serve all immediately. Happy Holidays!
Serve with this tangy No Sugar Cranberry Sauce if desired for a gorgeous pop of colour on the plate!
By Nicole Fetterly, RD