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.
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.
Squab, Cornish Game Hen and a Partridge – or three!
At Kendal Hills Farm in Durham Region, the world is your winged oyster. The beautiful birds are raised outside on pasture on a diet of non-genetically modified grains. Stop by their Clarington Farm Gate or order online at kendalhillsfarm.ca
Pull a rabbit out of your chefs hat
At Hamilton Farm in York Region, they offer farm gate sales of farm fresh vegetables, brown eggs and rabbit. They’re open Tuesday – Saturday and are cash only. Don’t let that deter you though! This rural gem is a wealth of delicious for those willing to make the trek. [They don’t have a website]
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
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 emu all raised on neighbouring farms. Emu has a similar texture to red meat tastes a lot to beef, but with a lower fat content. 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
At Graham Creek County 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
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
- 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
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.