Foodies across the country are beginning to shake off recipes that call for fussy, hard to find ingredients. Instead, they are looking for products that are home grown and full of natural flavour. A traditional holiday meal in Canada is a gathering of family and friends around a table usually laden with delicious roast turkey and plenty of vegetables and side dishes.
More and more, people want to serve meals made from ethically sourced products with no artificial colors, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners. Farmers’ markets, independent butchers and Whole Foods Market are great places to source your holiday meal ingredients. Before buying, ask the butcher or vendor where the turkeys come from and how they are raised. At Whole Foods Market, turkeys are 5-Step Animal Welfare Rated, which means raised without the use of antibiotics and no added hormones. Global Animal Partnership created the rating which dictates no cages, crates or crowding, an enriched environment, enhanced outdoor access, pasture centered, no physical alterations and entire life spent on same farm. Not every producer will measure up to these standards, but if you can check off a few, you’re sure to get a better bird.
Following are recipes for turkey with Riesling wine, tangy chutney, savory stuffing and fluffy mashed potatoes.


Serves 8 to 10 with leftovers
This sweet, herb-brined turkey makes an impressive centerpiece for any holiday meal. The delicious pan drippings create the base of an inventive gravy.

For the Brine

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) fresh turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved (discard liver)

For Roasting the Turkey

  • 1/2 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 Fuji or Honeycrisp apple, quartered
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup expeller-pressed canola oil

For the Gravy

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Reserved turkey neck and giblets
  • 1 yellow onion, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, unpeeled and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Riesling
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped


For the brine, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add salt, honey, broth, peppercorns and rosemary in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until needed.
About 6 to 8 hours before you plan to roast your turkey, place brine mixture in a large clean bucket, stock pot or cooler and stir in 1 gallon of ice water. Place turkey in the bucket, breast side down, cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Make sure the turkey is fully submerged, adding more ice water if necessary.
To roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly, inside and out, with cool water; pat dry. Discard brine solution. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff turkey with onion, apple, garlic and rosemary. Place on a roasting rack set inside a large roasting pan and tuck the wings back. Brush the entire turkey with oil.
Cover breast portion with foil and place turkey on lowest rack in oven and roast 30 minutes, then turn heat down to 350°F and roast 2 to 2 1/2 hours longer, until a thermometer reads 165°F when inserted between the breast and thigh without touching the bone. Remove foil from breast about 45 minutes before the turkey is done. Remove turkey from pan, place on a platter and tent with foil. Let the turkey rest 20 minutes before carving.
For the gravy, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add turkey neck and giblets, onions and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the solids, and refrigerate broth until ready to use.
While turkey rests, pour pan drippings into a measuring cup and freeze for 15 minutes. Skim off any fat. Heat roasting pan over medium heat and add Riesling, scraping up any browned bits. Pour in giblet broth and skimmed pan drippings and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Whisk in butter until melted, then whisk in flour. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Stir in chopped herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.

1612-holiday-foodCRANBERRY CHUTNEY

A sweet and spicy accompaniment to your holiday turkey. And great when spread on turkey sandwiches.


  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 medium chopped onion
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted


Combine cranberries, onion, sugar, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat five or six minutes, stirring constantly. When cranberries start to explode remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly and stir in pecans.
Let chutney come to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate two days before serving.


This rich, full-flavored stuffing is a show stealer, whether stuffed in a turkey or baked on its own. For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and substitute vegetarian sausage or a few cups cooked shiitake mushrooms for the meat sausage.



  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 11 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 lb. fresh mild pork or chicken sausage
  • 4 Braeburn, Gala or other apples, cored and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread bread cubes out on two large rimmed baking sheets and bake until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up chunks with a spoon, until browned, about six minutes. Add apples, celery, onion and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple and vegetables are softened, eight to 10 minutes more. Add to toasted bread. Stir in broth, sage, salt and pepper.
If using to stuff a turkey, cool completely before stuffing. If baking separately, heat oven to 350°F and bake in a buttered casserole dish until lightly browned and crisp on top, 50 to 60 minutes.


These mashed potatoes are delicious as is. But if you’re in the mood for something different, try stirring some shredded, sharp cheddar cheese or finely chopped fresh herbs into the finished potatoes.


  • 3 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • Ground black pepper to taste


Put potatoes into a large pot, cover with salted water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, put milk and butter into a small pot and heat over medium heat until butter is just melted and mixture is hot; cover and keep warm.
Drain potatoes and return to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until potatoes have dried out and most of the steam is gone, three to four minutes. Remove pot from the heat, add milk mixture, salt and pepper and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Alternately, mash with a potato masher until just chunky. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

All recipes courtesy Whole Foods Market
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Maureen LittleJohn

Maureen Littlejohn is Culture Magazin’s executive editor. She is a Canadian award-winning journalist who has practiced her craft around the world including in the United States, Africa and Vietnam. Currently based in Toronto, she has a keen eye for detail and has a deep appreciation for the “East Meets West” approach of Culture Magazin. Travel is her passion and she is happy to be able to share her adventures on a regular basis with the magazine’s readers.