How to make Thanksgiving Unboring

Bacon Brussels Sprout Slaw Bacon Brussels Sprout Slaw
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When I came across the following “how-to” funny in my channels for the third time, it finally dawned on me. American Thanksgiving is nearly upon us.

Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey, scotch, or JD [Hello! Wine? Beer? Cider?]
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, pass and eat out!

While Canadian Thanksgiving came and went over a month ago (second Monday of October), I am finding it difficult not to get excited again as our neighbours celebrate their turkey day.

In recent years, their fourth Thursday of November feast changed from warm family get together to providing the necessary sustenance to survive “Black Friday”, the day that unofficially starts the Christmas shopping season. That day’s sales, which are replete with big box store door crasher specials, serve as a litmus test for how the season will turn out.

Still, let me broach the question again. Why does it seem American Thanksgiving is celebrated with more pomp and pageantry?

Looking back at the past several weeks, more magazines were devoted to preparing turkey and “fixings.” More television shows put out Thanksgiving-themed episodes. More advertising dollars were spent.

The general inbox for foodiePrints, a blog focused on Canada’s National Capital Region, read like this this past week: Workhouse PR wants to promote a photo booth app that allows you to photoshop celebs at your dinner table, dubbed “Table Full of Turkeys”; Quinn/Brein PR wants you, our readers, to serve whooopie-pie-esque pumpkin spice cookies from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook; and D’Artagnan issued its “Last Call” (today!) for Thanksgiving Turkey.

Serious Eats released an inspired post from “The Food Lab” about brining turkeys. It is one in a series of posts on my favourite holiday of the year.

Now, it’s been four years since I asked the question about Canadian Thanksgiving’s relative obscurity. The way I see it, if you can’t beat them, join them. So, we at foodiePrints saved some of our more creative adventures in Thanksgiving dinner this year to share this week.

With content creators like the dedicated people at Serious Eats, explaining how to roast a turkey, I hasten to bore you with my thoughts on how to achieve optimum succulence or flavour.

A brief recount, we opted for a dry cure before roasting a turkey breast for carving this year. As per our tradition, we jointed a whole bird for our Thanksgiving dinner, brining and confiting the leg quarters. The remaining carcass was roasted and used to make stock for gravy and stove-top stuffing.

My Take on the Frozen Turkey TV Dinner

My Take on the Frozen Turkey TV Dinner

[Summer savoury cured turkey breast with gravy, confit turkey thigh, tomatillo and apple chutney, butter mashed potatoes, and bacon Brussels sprout slaw]

Jointed TurkeyWhole Spices for Turkey Leg BrineBrined Turkey Legs in Duck FatConfit Turkey Legs

Chutney in Lieu of Cranberry Sauce
If you are tired of anything cranberry, be it jelly (which can be really tasty!), relish, or sauce, consider chutney to pair with your turkey and fixings. Chutneys are wonderful additions to a savoury feast, providing texture and flavour contrasts. Think dark sweetness from brown sugar; spicy heat from ginger, all spice, mustard seeds, and cardamom; and brightness from a wine or fruit vinegar.

With gluts of tomatillos and apples, purchased during one of our last runs of the season to our favourite producers at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market, we made David Lebovitz’s Green Tomato-Apple Chutney.

Tomatillo and Apple Chutney

Tomatillo and Apple Chutney

Tomatillo and Apple Chutney
[Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Green Tomato-Apple Chutney]

Tomatillos and a Naked OrangeAdding Ingredients to a Non-Reactive PotClean Path Along the Bottom of the PotChutney Done

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 900 g tomatillos (stripped of their papery skins if they are still “dressed”)
  • 2 apples (we went with one McIntosh and one Cortland)
  • 100 g red onions
  • 2 dried red pepperoncini chiles
  • 65 g candied ginger
  • 160 g sultana raisins
  • 180 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom (approximately 3-5 whole pods, ground)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice (approximately 3/4 tsp whole berries, ground)
  • zest of one orange


  1. Add the vinegar to a large non-reactive pot that can hold all of the ingredients.
  2. Chop the tomatillos into a medium to medium-small dice and place them in the pot.
  3. Peel, core, and chop the apples into a medium to medium-small dice and place them in the pot.
  4. Carefully, stir the mixture in the acid to make sure the apples are coated. This way, they won’t colour prematurely.
  5. Finely chop the red onions and add them to the pot.
  6. Finely chop the chiles and add them to the pot.
  7. Chop the candied ginger into a small dice and place it into the pot.
  8. Add the raisins, brown sugar, and mustard seeds.
  9. If the cardamom and allspice are whole, grind them with a mortar and pestle until powdered, measure, and add the requisite quantities to the pot.
  10. Zest an orange and add the resultant zest to the pot. We have found that a micro-plane grater is best for this task.


  1. Mix everything together and set it to medium heat.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil uncovered and reduce the heat to medium-low or low. You want a low simmer.
  3. Stir frequently and reduce the mixture until everything breaks down.
  4. The chutney is done when the mixture is jam-like and you can make a path along the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula that holds its shape.
  5. Jar and serve the chutney chilled.

Jars, opened at the dinner table, were emptied quickly.

Beet-root Chocolate Ice Cream
Suffice it to say I am a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage series of food programming from the UK. We own several of his cook books. I have written up an attempt at a recipe he published for beet brownies.

From one of his more recent miniseries, River Cottage Veg Every Day, I gleaned something else beet and chocolate.

Beet-root Chocolate Ice Cream

Beet-root Chocolate Ice Cream

This distinctly autumnal ice cream was served for dessert during Thanksgiving, something different.

Hummingbird Bolivia Chocolate

Hummingbird Bolivia Chocolate

But first, the chocolate employed came from local artisan producers Erica and Drew Gilmour of Hummingbird Chocolate. Based in Ottawa, the husband and wife team source beans from organic and fair trade producers around the world and actually make chocolate. The labour and time intensive process includes sorting the beans by hand, roasting them, separating the shells from the nibs, conching the nibs, producing chocolate, aging the chocolate, and creating tempered bars for sale. The 100 g we purchased was Bolivia chocolate, which is made from Trinatario Organic Cacao. Erica told me Bolivia would be best if I were to cook something sweet with it. Deeply chocolate, it also has a molasses character.

Recipe-wise, I didn’t adapt Fearley-Whittingstall’s recipe at all, so prefer you click on the link above if you want to attempt beet chocolate ice cream.

Essentially, I roasted and pureed 300 g of beet-root, measured after roasting, peeling, and pureeing. When cooled, I mixed it into a likewise cooled mixture of creme anglaise and melted chocolate. The creme anglaise was made with scalded (180 F) 200 mL 35% cream and 300 mL whole milk; 4 egg yolks; and 100 g of white granulated sugar. The chocolate was shaved and melted in a mixing bowl set over simmering water. Everything was refrigerated for several hours and then turned in an ice cream maker.

Gently Melted ChocolateCreme AnglaiseBeet PureeBeet Chocolate Ice Cream SpinningChilled Core of an Ice Cream MakerBeet Chocolate Ice Cream Finished Spinning

The resulting ice cream was wonderfully purple, beet-root sweet, but deeply chocolate. Unfortunately, anyone who dislikes beet-root will dislike this ice cream.

To our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving this week! If you attempt anything unorthodox to serve with your turkey feast, do share!

We Canadians love Thanksgiving too!

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.