ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving

Updated on October 29, 2015
AnnaMKB profile image

One of the best ways to learn about people and their cultures is to learn about their food! Enjoy these modern and traditional recipes.

photo credit: Fall colours in Canada By Vlad Litvinov from Toronto via Wikimedia Commons. All other photos are my own.
photo credit: Fall colours in Canada By Vlad Litvinov from Toronto via Wikimedia Commons. All other photos are my own.

A fall tradition of giving Thanks.

The very first formal Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated in 1578, by Martin Forbisher, at what is now known as Forbisher Bay. It was during Forbisher's third attempt to find a Northwest Passage; a voyage filled with trials and hardship, and the celebrants were giving thanks for their very survival!

French settlers began celebrating feasts of thanksgiving regularly, beginning in 1604, with other notable feasts of thanksgiving held over the next 300 years. The first Thanksgiving Day celebrated as a civic holiday by the Confederation of Canada was in April of 1872. Thanksgiving began to be celebrated yearly in October or November since 1879, with the date changing several times. Since 1957, Canada has officially celebrated Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.

In our household, currently well away from our extended family, celebrating Thanksgiving has been a smaller, calmer holiday, focused on family, food and friendship.

Especially food. Lots of food.

Here are some recipes you might like to try for your own celebrations! I hope you enjoy them.


Bacon Wrapped Brined Turkey - The main event!

Bacon Wrapped Brined Turkey
Bacon Wrapped Brined Turkey

While turkey is traditionally associated with Thanksgiving, until I learned how to brine a turkey, we tended more towards ham as the main protein of our Thanksgiving meal.

Brining meat is a great way to keep it moist and juicey - important when roasting something as large as a turkey! By soaking the bird in brine first, it prevents the protein from losing too much moisture during the cooking process. It also begins to dissolve the proteins, resulting in a more tender meat.

Brine is essentially salt water. To brine a turkey, a mixture of 2 cups of salt (preferably sea salt) and 2 cups of brown sugar is added to 4 gallons of water. In addition to that, herbs, spices and other flavourings can be added to the brine.

Personally, I prefer to use less sugar. I also like to add lemon slices and whatever herbs and spices in my cupboards catch my fancy!

The challenge is to completely immerse the bird. I have a 16 quart stock pot that I used, but I have also used giant freezer bags as well. The other challenge is to keep the brining bird chilled - you'll need plenty of space in your refrigerator! Or, if you live in colder climates, you can do what we did; put the safely covered turkey in brine on the balcony overnight!

Once brined, I like to add a completely unnecessary extra - bacon! This is a trick I learned from my mother-in-law. Technically, the bacon is there to help keep the bird moist, but it's unlikely to actually accomplish that through the thick skin of a turkey. It does, however, serve two other purposes; 1) it adds a real hit of flavour and 2) as the turkey nears the end of its cooking time and little children are starting to get underfoot, wondering when it will be ready, the smart cook will tell them it will be a bit longer, while sneaking pieces of crisp bacon to them to tide them over until the feast is ready!

The photos below are of my most recent brined turkey, with a printable recipe to follow. Remember, however, that half the fun is experimenting to make it truly your own!

Brining our Turkey - A photo step-by-step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The first step is to choose and assemble all your ingredients.As we were heating the brine, I decided to add some chopped green onion, simply because I had some.The brine needs to be cooled before soaking.  Adding ice cubes helps, but it does take a while.Our turkey just squeezed into the bottom of my giant stock pot!After adding the brine mixture, I added cold water to make sure the turkey was covered.After a night of brining.I like to go all out with the bacon!  This was an entire package.Crispy, juicy and delicious!
The first step is to choose and assemble all your ingredients.
The first step is to choose and assemble all your ingredients.
As we were heating the brine, I decided to add some chopped green onion, simply because I had some.
As we were heating the brine, I decided to add some chopped green onion, simply because I had some.
The brine needs to be cooled before soaking.  Adding ice cubes helps, but it does take a while.
The brine needs to be cooled before soaking. Adding ice cubes helps, but it does take a while.
Our turkey just squeezed into the bottom of my giant stock pot!
Our turkey just squeezed into the bottom of my giant stock pot!
After adding the brine mixture, I added cold water to make sure the turkey was covered.
After adding the brine mixture, I added cold water to make sure the turkey was covered.
After a night of brining.
After a night of brining.
I like to go all out with the bacon!  This was an entire package.
I like to go all out with the bacon! This was an entire package.
Crispy, juicy and delicious!
Crispy, juicy and delicious!

Feel free to modify to your own personal preferences!

Cook Time

Prep Time: about 1/2 hour

Total Time: overnight plus roasting time

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 gallons water
  • 2 cups coarse or sea salt
  • 2 cups or less brown sugar
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • several cloves garlic or 1 garlic head cut in half crosswise
  • 6 or 8 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • fresh or dried herbs of choice, such as savory thyme or rosemary
  • onion, sliced yellow or chopped green
  • 1 package sliced bacon

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, combine water, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Place turkey in bag or container large enough to immerse in brine. Pour cooled brine mixture over the turkey, adding more cold water to immerse, if necessary.
  4. Allow turkey to soak in brine overnight, or at least for several hours.
  5. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry, but do not rinse.
  6. Place turkey in roasting pan and cover with sliced bacon strips. They stay in place better if woven.
  7. Roast turkey in oven preheated to 350F. Use a meat thermometer to be sure it is thoroughly cooked.
  8. Remove turkey to platter and tent with foil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.
Cast your vote for Bacon Wrapped Brined Turkey

A Special Side for a Special Occasion

Mixing white and sweet potatoes

Scalloped potatoes is a favourite dish I've made for many years. Lately, I've been trying to incorporate the healthy sweet potato into our diets as well.

I came up with this recipe for my Crock Pot, because I needed the oven for the turkey. While it was a success, I would actually recommend baking it in an oven, as dairy tends to separate in a slow cooker. It tastes fine, but isn't particularly attractive.

Sweet and White Scalloped Potatoes - Step by step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
First, gather your ingredients.  Not pictured; flour and milk.Soften the onions in butter.Stir in remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper.Wisk while heating until just simmering.Slice the potatoes, keeping the white potatoes in salt water to prevent blackening.Layer the slices, adding salt and pepper to each later.Add some of the dairy mixture, making sure to include some onions.Add remaining dairy mixture, topping up with milk if necessary, then add crushed pecans.This is after 6 hours on low in the slow cooker.
First, gather your ingredients.  Not pictured; flour and milk.
First, gather your ingredients. Not pictured; flour and milk.
Soften the onions in butter.
Soften the onions in butter.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper.
Wisk while heating until just simmering.
Wisk while heating until just simmering.
Slice the potatoes, keeping the white potatoes in salt water to prevent blackening.
Slice the potatoes, keeping the white potatoes in salt water to prevent blackening.
Layer the slices, adding salt and pepper to each later.
Layer the slices, adding salt and pepper to each later.
Add some of the dairy mixture, making sure to include some onions.
Add some of the dairy mixture, making sure to include some onions.
Add remaining dairy mixture, topping up with milk if necessary, then add crushed pecans.
Add remaining dairy mixture, topping up with milk if necessary, then add crushed pecans.
This is after 6 hours on low in the slow cooker.
This is after 6 hours on low in the slow cooker.

Cook Time

Prep Time: about 45 minutes

Total Time:

Serves: 6-8

Sweet and White Scalloped Potatoes with Pecans - For the slow cooker or oven.

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 6 medium white potatoes or enough to match the amount of sweet potatoes
  • 1 chopped medium onion plus butter for softening
  • 1 small carton cream (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small container sour cream (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp dried herbs of choice*
  • about 1/2 cup crushed pecan halves
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper)
  • milk as needed

Instructions

  1. * I used a mixture of paprika, dill and savoury
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt enough butter to cook your onion. Over medium heat, add chopped onion and cook until softened. Add flour, herbs, sour cream and cream and wisk together. Heat until just simmering, wisking constantly. Mixture will thicken.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Peel and slice potatoes, keeping white potatoes in salt water to prevent blackening.
  5. Butter or oil sides of slow cooker or roasting pan. Begin layering one type of potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add second type of potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add a small amount of the diary mixture, being sure to include some of the onion. Repeat layers until all potato slices are used up. Add remaining dairy mixture. If necessary, add milk until you can just see it along the sides of your roaster (less for the slow cooker).
  6. Top with crushed pecans.
  7. Set slow cooker to low heat and cook for 6 hours or until soft (time will change depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker)
  8. Alternatively, place roaster in 350F oven. Roast until potatoes are fork tender; about 1 hour.

Ginger Carrots - A sweet addition to any meal.

This is one of those recipes where I constantly adjust the ingredients to taste, so the quantities here are just approximate. Feel free to adjust to your own preferences!

Cook Time

Prep Time:

Total Time:

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds carrots
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp fresh or 2 tsp powdered ginger

Instructions

  1. Peel carrots and cut into 1/4 inch chunks. Boil or steam until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. If using fresh ginger, peel and chop fine.
  3. Melt butter. When hot and bubbly, add the brown sugar and ginger. Stir until heated through and sugar is melted.
  4. Add carrots and toss until well coated. Serve immediately.

What are some of your favourite Thanksgiving foods and traditions?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      Ohh, that bacon wrapped brined turkey! It would work with kosher or halal bacon too, and that means I could cook that dish. Yummm!

    • jeffersuan profile image

      jeffersuan 3 years ago

      I think that bacon-wrapped turkey just became my favorite!

      I also like homemade rice pudding. And the jello salads.