Thanksgiving is almost upon us and while, for most of us, it’s meant to be a pleasurable holiday spent with family, for those in the kitchen it’s often anything but.
Whether it’s the turkey, the stuffing, or the cranberry sauce, there’s a lot to think about when planning the perfect holiday meal. The best way to alleviate some of that stress is to do as much of the cooking as you can before your guests arrive.
“You don’t want to be panicking while you have guests over and everything’s going on,” said JP Gerritson, a chef at Atco Blue Flame Kitchen in Calgary.
Gerritson suggests removing the breasts and legs from the turkey ahead of time and cooking separately to cut down on the amount of time the bird spends in the oven. Separately, he said, the thighs, drumsticks and breasts can cook in about an hour-and-a-half.
“A whole turkey is a fairly daunting task,” he said. “The biggest thing is – it’s just a big chicken. You’ve probably cooked a chicken at home.”
Gerritson also recommends plating hors d’oeuvres, and making the stuffing and cranberry sauce ahead of time.
WATCH BELOW: Atco Blue Flame Kitchen chef JP Gerritson talks to Gord Gillies about his recipes for stuffing waffles and crispy roasted potatoes
Atco Blue Flame Kitchen’s stuffing waffles
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 large eggs
4 cups Atco Kichen’s simple stuffing (recipe below)
- Whisk together cream and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Add stuffing and stir to combine.
- Using 1/3 cup batter for each waffle and spoon batter – spreading lightly – onto a preheated greased waffle iron. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Atco Kitchen’s simple stuffing
1 cup diced bacon
2 tbsp salted butter
4 cups diced celery
4 cups diced onions
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sage, crumbled
1 tsp thyme, crumbled
16 cups day-old cubed French bread cubes (1/2 inch)
1 ½ cups no-salt-added chicken broth
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Saute bacon in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat until browned and crisp (4-5 minutes). Add butter, stirring until butter is melted.
- Add celery and onions; saute until vegetables are softened (4 minutes)
- Add garlic, sage and thyme; saute for one minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Combine bacon mixture, bread cubes, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish
- Bake until stuffing is golden brown and heated through (about 50-55 minutes)
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 12.
WATCH BELOW: How to make stuffing waffles
Atco Kitchen’s extra-crispy roasted potatoes
Makes about 6 cups
4 lb cubed, peeled yellow potatoes (about 9 cups)
¼ cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until almost tender (about 10-15 minutes); drain well. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to dry slightly
- Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand for 1-2 minutes. Strain through a sieve into separate bowls. Keep both mixtures and set aside.
- Add potatoes to a large bowl. Toss to create a paste on potatoes. Add reserved oil, salt and pepper.
- Toss to coat
- Spread potatoes in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir potatoes and continue to bake until crispy (about 25-30 minutes)
- Transfer to a large bowl. Add reserved garlic and parsley. Toss to combine.