Well, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. With snow flurries in the air, it’s going to be a cozy one. Have you ever thought about where your Thanksgiving meal comes from? Alberta farmers are hard at work all year to bring those delicious foods to your table. Here’s a little window into the story of your potatoes, wheat and turkey. This Thanksgiving, let’s all take a moment to thank our Alberta farmers!

Wheat

Of course no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without stuffing, and with bread as its core ingredient, wheat is at the heart of your stuffing. Here’s a staggering fact: wheat has been around for 11,000 years. A few more:

Alberta Wheat

  • Wheat is the third largest production crop in the world and the largest crop grown in Canada.
  • Wheat is grown on approximately 6.8 million acres of land in Alberta and 24 million acres in Canada.
  • Alberta produces 8.3 million tonnes of wheat annually.
  • Alberta’s wheat feeds consumers both internationally and at home.
  • Alberta produces enough wheat in one year to make 9,258,000 loaves of bread.
  • Wheat is on the Alberta flag!

Potatoes

Did you know that 50,000 acres of Alberta farmland are dedicated to growing potatoes? That amounts to 650,000 tonnes of potatoes. They are planted in May and June and harvested in September and October. In fact, they are being harvested right now! Just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Alberta Potato Farmers

In the age of low-carb diet fads, potatoes have gotten a bad rap–but taters are loaded with nutritional value. They are high in potassium, fibre and complex carbohydrates. Did you know they even have protein and 45% of your daily Vitamin C?!

Most of the potatoes grown in Alberta are processing potatoes–only 3,000 acres are devoted to the fresh potatoes we cook at home. Even with all of those acres and 140 growers, Alberta doesn’t produce enough fresh potatoes to supply all the grocery stores. So when you are shopping, check the labels and support your local potato farmer.

Turkeys

Stampede purchases all their turkeys from Winter’s, an organic turkey farm in Dalemead, southeast of Calgary. They have been raising turkeys for four generations. These birds are humanely raised with unlimited access to fresh water and the outdoors.

Turkeys

Winter’s turkeys eat a whole grain diet, supplemented with organic greens and forage and no antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by products. You can find Winter’s turkeys all over Calgary: Amaranth Whole Foods, Community Natural Foods, Planet Organic, SPUD delivery service, Sunnyside Market and Blue Sea Food Markets, to name a few.

Not sure how to cook your turkey this year? Here are some tips for a perfect bird.

Giblets

Giblets are packaged in a plastic bag and are found either in the neck cavity or the body cavity. Remove and rinse in cold water before cooking.

Stuffing Preparation

Stuffing can be prepared separately and placed in a covered casserole dish to cook during the last hour of the turkey roasting time. For those who prefer to stuff their turkey: Prepare stuffing and spoon loosely into body cavity just before roasting, do not pack stuffing. Never stuff your turkey the day before. Remove stuffing prior to carving the turkey.

Seasoning and Roasting Your Turkey

Place turkey breast side up on a rack in roasting pan. Season the skin and inside the cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, thyme, rosemary or your favorite herbs and spices.

Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful to not touch the bone.

Roasting Your Turkey

Place in roaster and cover loosely with foil or roaster lid. Roast in a preheated oven 325° to 350° F (160° – 180° C) oven. If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven (once an hour is sufficient). To brown skin further, remove foil or roaster lid approximately 1 hour before done. General rule of thumb for oven cooking a stuffed turkey at 325° F is 15 minutes per pound (30 minutes per kilogram).

Many variables affect the roasting time. An accurate meat thermometer is recommended. Time will vary based on the temperature of the preheated oven, temperature of the bird going into the oven, the accuracy of the oven’s thermostat, how many times the oven door is opened during roasting and the type of roasting pan.

Begin checking for doneness about one hour before the end of the recommended roasting time.

Fresh turkeys cook faster.

Your turkey is done when:

  • meat thermometer in the inner thigh reads 180° F (82° C) for a stuffed turkey
  • meat thermometer in the inner thigh reads 170° F (77° C) for an unstuffed turkey
  • when cooked to perfection the turkey meat and juices may have a slight pink tinge. The temperature of the meat is the most important sign of doneness.

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven or barbecue. Cover it with foil and let it stand for 20-25 minutes before carving. Letting your turkey stand for at least 15 minutes will help lock in the natural juices, keeping the meat tender and easier to carve.
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Approximate Times for Cooking

Weight Stuffed Turkey Unstuffed Turkey
13 – 16 lbs / 6.0 – 7.25 kg 3 ½ – 3 ¾ hours 3 ¼ – 3 ½ hours
16 – 19 lbs / 7.25 – 8.5 kg 4 – 4 ½ hours 3 ½ – 4 hours
10 – 22 lbs / 8.5 – 10 kg 4 ½ – 5 ¼ hours 4 – 4 ½ hours

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Special thanks to Potato Growers of Alberta, Alberta Wheat and Stampede Executive Chef, Derek Dale, for their help in preparing this blog post.