I can already smell the scent of sage, poultry seasoning, celery, and onion as the turkey roasts in the oven, and the stuffing’s aroma envelopes the kitchen. The apple pie sits steaming on a wire rack, while the apple cider warms in the crockpot.
Roast Turkey, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables such as squash, yams, parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and pumpkin pie still top the list of Thanksgiving dinner traditions, says Mark Brasier, Executive Chef at Liberty North in Barrie.
“When purchasing a locally raised turkey or farm fresh turkey, your cook times will be different than a turkey purchased from a grocery chain,” informs Jennifer Long-Allen, President of Cravings Fine Food in Barrie.
You should be conscious of where you’re purchasing your turkey, duck, or Cornish hen for Thanksgiving, says Shane VanCasteren, Operations Manager & Go-To-Guy at Nicholyn Farms on Horseshoe Valley near Phelpston. Buy local and know where your food is coming from. Think along the lines of Farm to Table where there’s no middle-man. “You are purchasing your food from the hands that planted, cared for and picked it.”
“Ontario’s harvest is bountiful and should be taken advantage of at all opportunities. Supporting local farmers by purchasing their seasonal offerings helps to keep prices down as transportation costs are lowered because it’s local,” says Brasier. “Be aware of expiration dates when buying frozen products. Also, stay away from meats that say ‘previously frozen’.”
With people being more food savvy and making changes to their daily food choices, more alternative Thanksgiving dinners will likely be served this year
“This year will definitely see an increase in the ‘plant based’ category, whether it’s the ‘meatless, meat’ options, or just using straight vegetables for the main course. Examples would be eggplant parmesan, couscous and cranberry stuffed zucchini rolls, maple glazed squash rounds, roasted cauliflower soup, broccoli, and mushroom casserole,” enlightens Brasier.
Vegan and vegetarian dishes are growing in popularity for anyone who would like to change up their dinner options, especially on special occasions such as Thanksgiving. “Many people are still unfamiliar, or are timid of cooking a main dish for vegans, or those with dietary restrictions. We’ve offered a beautiful stuffed acorn squash with cranberries as a main dish option,” shares Long-Allen.
Of course, we can’t have a Thanksgiving meal without drinks and dessert.
Traditional pumpkin and apple pie are still favourites for a yummy fall sweet to wrap up a deliciously seasoned dinner. You could make pumpkin tarts, or apple cobbler to change it up a bit.
Freshly pressed apple cider is a perfect drink to serve for all ages. “Thanksgiving is usually the first time of the year when warm apple cider gets served. To kick it up a notch, add in spiced rum, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks,” says Brasier.
Pair a local wine with your Farm to Table Thanksgiving dinner, and you’ll likely have friends and family spreading the word about your absolutely stellar meal!