Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

A guide to finding your perfect holiday dinner at home

Did you know turkey is a relatively new staple of your traditional holiday dinner? For centuries, goose took center stage on Canadian families’ festive tables.

Carving Turkey

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good turkey dinner – but after a few decades of the same old, same old; I’m more excited about the fixings than the meat. That’s where the hard-working, creative farmers and ranchers of York, Durham, Headwaters come in!

This season, consider yourself epi-curious. Expand your culinary horizons by serving up one of the regions many ethically raised beasts – no magic suitcase required.

Duck, duck, mousse

At King Cole Ducks in York Region, they raise world-class ducks for lovers of fowl across North America. At their award-winning farm shop, you can get everything from duck wings to duck liver parfait to duck pizzas. Once a month, they also host ‘Duck School’ for those who want to learn more about cooking with this delicious meat. Find details at kingcoleducks.com

Boar and deer

Heatherlea Farm in Headwaters in one of the best stocked butchers counters in Ontario. Alongside their dry-aged, pasture raised beef, they also stock all manner of poultry and rare meats like deer and wild boar all raised on neighbouring farms. Find details at heatherlea.ca

Not your average chicken

At Landman Gardens in Headwaters they raise 2000 beautiful chickens that are pastured, GMO free, antibiotic free and hormone free every year. The birds are housed in movable coops to give them access to fresh grass often and it shows! These are the happiest hens in the region. You can find them in the Farmstore & Bakery, alongside baked goods, preserves and other seasonal treats. Find details at  landmangardens.ca

Lamb

At Graham Creek Farm & Country Estate, they pasture raise purebred Cheviot ewes. Their practices are ecologically sustainable, making their 40 acre family farm in Clarington a good choice for meaty meals. The property is beautiful and open for special events, in case hosting at home is not what you’re looking for! Discover more at grahamcreekfarm.com

AE Natural Meats in Mount Albert, ON in York Region promises sustainability and ethical practices. Their lambs roam large fields, and are never raised on grain or with steroids, antibiotics, or hormones. They believe having happier lambs allows them to produce higher quality meat for you to enjoy.” https://aenaturalmeats.com/lamb

Bison

Take a break from beef this year, and offer your guests something that is not only unique, but healthier. If you didn’t know, bison has almost a quarter of the fat of most cuts of beef, making it lower in calories and cholesterol, and higher in iron and protein—not to mention it is an excellent source of iron, zinc and selenium, and is downright delicious! In Durham Region, Thunder Ridge Bison Company raises these fantastic beasts naturally and sustainably. But that’s not all. They are also involved in sustainability education and initiatives to bring back the bison population of North America. With that in mind, you can feel good about visiting Thunder Ridge’s on-farm store, where you will find all kinds of delectable farm-to-fork bison treats, from gluten-free meat pies, to steak, to soup bones. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop in next door at Slabtown Cider Co. for bison and a bevvie—bison sliders, bison chili and bison pizza are all on the menu. After all, you have to taste test what you’re going to serve to your friends and family; that’s simply the mark of a considerate host! To learn more about the majestic bison and about Thunder Ridge Bison Company, visit www.thunderridgebison.ca

Recipe Inspiration

Want to try one of these ideas at home this season, but not sure where to start? We asked the folks at King Cole Duck what they serve at home over the holidays. Here’s their show stopping recipe to share with a crowd!

PORT CHERRY ROAST DUCK

Port Cherry Duck

Ingredients

  • 1 King Cole whole duck, about 2.5kg/5lbs.
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) canola oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) ruby red port
  • ½ tsp (2ml) salt
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 more shallots, halved
  • ½ cup (125ml) dried cherries

Directions

Makes 4-6 servings.

  • Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
  • Trim excess skin from duck, remove giblets, and reserve for other use.
  • In small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and cook chopped shallot and garlic for about 6 minutes or until soft.
  • Add port and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced by half.
  • Sprinkle duck with salt (seasoning or sea salt) inside cavity and on skin.
  • Place sage leaves and shallot halves into duck cavity.
  • Use ½ cup (125 ml) of port mixture and brush over duck.
  • Add cherries into remaining port, set aside.
  • Place duck in centre of a 325F (160C) oven and roast for about 3 hours or until skin is crisp and golden brown; leg should move freely. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
  • Reheat port and cherries and serve with duck. Remember to quarter, not carve, a whole duck.

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