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Thanksgiving Doesn't Have to be a Horror Story

By Tina Albo:

Those who know me well will tell you that the month of October is my absolute favorite month of the year. It’s not because of my birthday (my birthday is in November), and I'm not one to become a Griswold during the month of December. October has two of my favorite days of the year: Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Being a born-and-bred Canadian, I have always celebrated Thanksgiving during the third week of the month. As a child, I enjoyed the long weekend and the feast that came with the celebration. Now that I'm an adult, I’ve come to enjoy the interaction with friends and family as we share delicious food and give thanks for all that is good in our lives.

I have decided to play host to family members and friends this year at my house, so I'd also like to invite you, dear reader, for a peek inside my kitchen as I prepare for the feast. I warn you, some things may seem scary . . . but I assure you that a big meal like this will not be the horror story it has been made out to be.


Turkey: Not as Daunting as One Might Think

To many people, roasting a turkey is one of the scariest things you can do in your kitchen. I won’t lie, there is a fair amount of prep work involved in cooking the perfect bird. However, the end result is always worth it, and I’m sure that you’ll come away from this experience feeling more confident in poultry than ever before.

First of all, you need to think of the logistics. You want to select the right size bird to accommodate the guests at your table. Before you go to the farm, the farmer’s market, or your local supermarket, I would suggest that you confirm the number of guests on your list. That way, you won't select a bird that will leave everyone else unsatisfied.

When it comes to selecting the right size, you must factor in about 1 ½ pounds to 2 pounds per guest. This has been my mother’s rule of thumb for years, and I abide by it as well. So, if you have 8 guests joining you, it would be best to select a turkey that is around 15 to 16 pounds. For 10 guests, I would suggest a turkey that weighs 18 to 20 lbs. Please keep in mind that the smaller birds have a smaller meat-to-bone ratio, so please be choosy. I assure you this math will be worth it in the long run when it comes to satisfied guests and minimal leftovers.

There is no shame in selecting a frozen turkey, as it’s an economical choice and will still taste delicious when fully cooked. But there is an extra step you will have to take, and that is to take it out at least 48 hours in advance to thaw. What I usually do is remove the turkey from my deep freeze and place it in the refrigerator to thaw so that it will be ready in time for when I need to begin my preparations.

If you're going for a fresh turkey this year, please keep in mind that you must use it within 2–3 days of refrigeration if there is no best before date on the packaging. If there is, be sure to factor this in. It's also best to remember that one processor's cooling and refrigeration methods vary from another's, so please be mindful. All in all, it’s best to purchase or make arrangements to pick up the turkey as close to Thanksgiving as possible so that you don't have to worry about a spoiled bird.


Thanksgiving Monday: October 14th, 2019

The day has arrived. and now it's time to start preparing the turkey. Before you do anything else, factor in the time everyone will be arriving and sitting down to eat. To cook a turkey properly, it takes roughly around 20 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 15 pound bird, it would take roughly around 4–5 hours for it to be perfectly cooked. Therefore, if your guests are arriving around 5:00 p.m., your turkey will need to be placed in the preheated oven by noon at the absolute latest.

Once you have your timing down pat, you will need to begin preparations:


1 15 lb frozen turkey, thawed

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp tuxedo pepper seasoning

1 tsp savory

1 tsp sage

2 cups water

8 cups prepared dressing (please see below for my recipe)


1. Preheat your oven to 325° Fahrenheit.

2. Take the covering off your turkey. Remove the turkey neck and giblets from inside and place in small a bowl. Rinse your turkey and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting pan.

4. Loosely fill the body cavity with the prepared dressing.

5. Rub the skin with the softened butter.

6. Season the turkey with the salt, pepper, savory, and sage.

7. Pour the 2 cups of water into the roasting pan.

8. Using aluminum foil, make a tent and place on top of the turkey.

9. Place the prepared turkey into the preheated oven.

10. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the mixture of water and turkey drippings at the bottom. Should the drippings evaporate, pour in another cup of water and continue basting.

11. Remove tin foil tent after 2 ½ hours and continue basting every 30 minutes.

12. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 165° F (75° C).

13. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a large serving platter. Let stand 20–30 minutes before carving.

That wasn't so scary now, was it? You don't need to be a Michelin-star chef to make this mouthwatering poultry. Like everything else, it just takes time and patience. Pat yourself on the back for completing such a task!

Don’t worry if your bird doesn’t come out looking like the ones you see on television and in the magazines. The only thing that matters is how it tastes, and you will find that all your hard work will not have been in vain when everyone is enjoying their meal.


You Can't Have Turkey Without the Proper Dressing

When I was growing up, my mother was never a fan of stuffing her turkey with dressing, so we always enjoyed ours prepared on the side on the stovetop. My oldest brother and I were big fans of dressing and would gobble it up as soon as it landed on our plates.

However, when I took over my own household, I learned the tasty benefits of stuffing a bird with dressing made from scratch. There’s something about the flavor of this style that stovetop-made dressings cannot compare with.