Is it stuffing or is it dressing? Cook it inside or outside the bird? Moist or dry? These controversies had us considering avoiding stuffing altogether. We’re a butcher’s newsletter — not Vice Magazine. But we are undaunted! So here it is; some notes about stuffing (or dressing, if you’re a Victorian, or from the Southern U.S., well, only certain parts of the Southern U.S., actually).
Sanagan’s house-made stuffing featuring sourdough bread, onion, butter, turkey stock, carrot and herbs is a classic addition to any Thanksgiving feast. Or make your own. They’re very few dishes that allow for a more intuitive, loosely-based-on-a-recipe approach to cooking. Just start with bread and go from there. If you want to add your own special touches to bread stuffing, ours or yours, consider the following additions:
• That package of weird bits that comes wrapped up inside your turkey? That’s the gizzard, heart AND WHAT ELSE?. Chop those up and add them in to sauté. More turkey flavour! Just don’t use the neck. (It’s the thing that looks like a neck.)
• More stock, preferably turkey but chicken will do. For those of you in the Moist Stuffing Camp. Make a mini-batch of turkey stock with that raw neck.
• Pork sausage. Because people like meat in their meat. Be sure to order some of our sage and thyme seasoned loose sausage meat when you order your turkey. When adding sausage consider some apple to lend a touch of acidic balance.
• Speaking of acidity — throw some orange juice in there.
• You know what you don’t see in any stuffing recipe? Wine! What’s up with that? I think a splash of something bright and tangy like a Muscadet Serve et Maine, a Gruner Veltliner or a dry Sauvignon Blanc would jazz things up.
• Chestnuts. We’re getting into some real olde-timey stuff here. The chestnuts should be boiled or roasted, shelled and chopped. Avoid chestnuts in sweet syrup — unless you like sweet stuffing. Now THAT’S controversial.
• Oysters. Extra olde-timey. Add the oyster liquor too to really up the oysterishness.
• Bacon. Because.
• Mushrooms: Fresh, wild or dry. Adjust quantities accordingly.
• Dried fruits like chopped cranberries or raisins. Tastes good. Looks good.
All of the above are suggested with bread stuffing in mind but don’t limit yourself to crumbs, especially for those saying no thanks to gluten. Corn bread, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes; rice, wild rice, bulgur and couscous can all be used to fill the bird.
Now that we have freed ourselves of any stuffiness regarding stuffing, let’s consider the suggestions of our Kensington neighbours and Sanagan’s co-workers for their multicultural stuffing inspirations.
Lester, the butcher from the Philippines, where, “about 50% of the people do Thanksgiving” says that his mother would add lemongrass to the stuffing.
Our friends at Caribbean Corner on Baldwin Street cite the Jamaican tradition of cramming the bird full of whole onions combined with clove, whole peppercorns and scallions. Aromatic!
Meat Hawker Angelica suggests a dim sum-style sticky rice stuffing hack with glutinous rice, sweet Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and shitake mushrooms.
So, as we can see, the inside of your turkey is an empty canvas awaiting the unlimited creativity of your stuffing expressions.
And now, a Thanksgiving classic:
A turkey walks into a bar.
The bartender says, “Wattle ya have?”
Make Sanagan’s your holiday destination this year! We have everything you’ll need to create a successful feast for your family and friends, so join us at either location and get your harvest feast on!
To place your order, either call us at 416-593-9747, or email us at (Kensington) email@example.com, or (Gerrard) firstname.lastname@example.org.
We source our birds from two different farms; Shady Grove (Guelph, ON), and Elm Creek (Grand Valley, ON). If the former sounds familiar, that’s because it’s where we get our maple syrup from! Both farms adhere to our standards of antibiotic & hormone-free, and free-run meat. The turkeys come in a variety of weight ranges, and as much as we sincerely try to get everyone EXACTLY what they ask for, there is sometimes a variance (on the heavy end). For example, if you want a 16 lb bird, your order goes in the 16-18 lb range, and it’s possible that the birds dress out on the heavy end, so you might have to take a 18lber. But that’s ok, just more turkey sandwiches in your future!
As for Heritage Turkeys, we’ll be getting some in from The Packing House, one of our preferred suppliers who sources game birds, specialty beef, and other great items like these Orlopp Bronze birds from a farm near Meaford. These are beautiful, pasture-raised birds, and I can say from personal experience that they’re some of the tastiest turkeys around! These birds will be coming in between 15 and 20 lbs – we have a limited supply so get your orders in early!
As well as fresh turkeys, we will be getting in whole Smoked Turkeys from Metzger Meats.
Are you one of the few people who don’t like turkey? No worries, we have you covered!
Capons (usually range from about 8 to 10 lbs)
City Ham (smoked, bone-in hams) We get them whole, so we can cut them to size.
Baseball hams (small, boneless smoked hams, better for a small number of people)
Breakfast Sausage Stuffing (loose breakfast sausage mix to put in your stuffing)
As well as these “main event” items, Anne and her team in the kitchen will be making up some lovely sides to accompany everyone’s turkey dinners. Here’s what we’ll be offering:
Brining Kits (includes a brine bag and the brine mix – just add water!)
It wouldn’t be a feast if you didn’t start with the perfect charcuterie board! Come down and see what Scott has made for the occasion. No one else in the city has the selection of house made pâtés, rillettes, and mousses that your friends here at Sanagan’s have! Impress your friends and your taste buds!
Doesn’t really have the same ring to it does it? But we’ve been selling cheese now for years. It was the logical extension of our vast deli counter that now, along with charcuterie and salads, can provide you with the perfect picnic, party platter or cold supper. Currently space only allows us to sell cheese at our Kensington location but you can still get your cheese on at our Gerrard branch too. Just get all your charcuterie and meaty requirements with us and then head directly across the street to Pantry Fine Cheese for the fromage.
Cheese has had such an impact on our business, it stole one of employees. Steve Ward, long-time meat hawker in the Kensington shop, is now the lead cheese maker at Monforte Cheese in Stratford. Whey to be, Steve!
In case you’re thinking that you too might drop your current gig and become a cheese maker, Steve will tell you it’s no (cheese) cakewalk. “It’s an exacting and unforgiving process. Your job is trying to make a consistent product with the ever-variable ingredient of milk which is the product of an animal. An animal that experiences different environments, weather, grazing etc. I’m not using automated paddles. I’ve got my hands in there. I’m feeling the curds, the releasing of the whey - It’s artisanal.”
So please consider some of Steve’s efforts and those of our other all-Ontario cheese makers.
Monforte Providence Saler
Firm cheddar-style. Very nice caramel start followed by a balance of fruity-sour-tang. Sort of like a serious caramel apple. And if you happened to throw that on a burger? Watch out!
Thornloe Medium Cheddar
Firm. A touch of gratifying grain in the texture. For a younger, all-purpose cheddar, it’s no pushover in the sharpness department.
Semi-firm. Mild and pliant as expected but with a nice sour lactic undertow. Great in caprese salad or, of course, sliced thin on pizza.
Fifth Town Buffalina
Firm Gouda-style. Salty-sweet with a touch of grit leading to an elegant blooming mouth-feel and nice edge of rustic funk on the rind. Great with lighter red wines.
Monforte Waltzing Matilda
Looking for Camembert style soft creamy luxury? Dance your way over here. But don’t overlook the intrigue lent by the delicate layer of ash under the expressive rind.
Monforte Fontina with Fenugreek.
Hard. The fenugreek adds a musky quality of wild mushroom. But the overall effect is balanced while offering one of the bigger flavours in our selection. The rind brings savoury depth. Pair with other full flavours like olives and pickled peppers in a starter tray. And sherry!
Monforte Little Boy Blue.
Soft. Let this drain off its residual moisture before serving. A lovely salty edge of true-blue funky ripeness playing off a sweet milky core. Pass the port.
Hard. A full, round, sweet, fruity delight right out of the gate with subtle funk from the long-aged craggy rind. Great mouth-feel. Feature on a cheese plate after entrée.
Classic expression the style. Soft, creamy, full goaty flavour with tangy lactic core.
If late 90's TV sitcoms (Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond) have taught me anything, it's that most men/fathers are essentially cavemen. I wouldn't generally agree with that assessment of myself, with the notable exception of my burning desire to cook meat over fire.
Although I've been using a propane (and very occasionally a charcoal) grill since I was in my early teens, it's only in the last year or so that I've developed a fascination with American Barbecue.
The romantic vision I have in my head involves long, possibly overnight, cooks of full briskets, pork butts and ribs, using an offset stick burner. This would mean constantly monitoring temperatures, adding wood, controlling the fire, etc. etc. As much fun as I think this would be (and I do plan on moving in this direction at some point), with two kids 6 and under, I know that it's a very unrealistic view of how to make it work.
The compromise I arrived at was a pellet grill. Pellet grills have been growing in popularity and the simplicity of it is what really sold me. Essentially, they work electrically to create a consistent environment with temperature and smoke using pure hardwood pellets. It gives me a chance to focus on building flavours that I like and getting rough guidelines for time and temperature, without dominating my time managing the fire.
I went with a slightly larger model than I probably needed and picked it up on the Saturday before Canada Day with 20+ people booked for a BBQ the following day. For my first run through I decided to smoke a pork shoulder and a couple of boneless turkey breasts. I knew that if I ran into issues with my cook I'd be able to take steps to salvage them no matter how the smoker performed.
I needn't have worried. The pellet grill worked like a charm, and with just a simple rub (salt and pepper only for the turkey, a few more spices for the pork butt), smoke and time, we easily fed 20 guests without having to neglect them to prepare the meal. Two days later, I smoked a couple of tri tips low and slow (225 F for approx. 2 hours), rested them for 30 minutes, and finished them off on a hot propane barbecue, in what amounted to essentially a reverse sear. It was a delicious dinner for six that required almost no effort on my part. At this point in my caveman existence, that's about all I can ask for.