Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

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Tony Aspler, Wine writer

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Gastronomically yours,

Hold the Turkey!

Turkey is often blamed for making us lethargic after Christmas dinner. Considering that turkey contains the essential amino acid L-tryptophan which our bodies can metabolize into serotonin and melatonin, which induce a calming effect on our minds and bodies giving it a sleep inducing effect.

To be effective L-tryptophan needs to be taken on an empty stomach and it must be consumed without protein or other amino acids in order to make you drowsy. L-tryptophan is also present in pork, chicken, and cheese in similar concentrations as found in turkey. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, and the amount of protein in them cancels out any chemical induced sleepiness.

Fats also take a lot of energy to digest and slow down our digestive system causing our bodies to redirect blood to your digestive system to tackle the heavy workload. Since we have less blood flow elsewhere, we feel less energetic after eating a meal rich in fats.

In short it’s not the turkey that makes us sleepy. It’s the carbohydrate and fatty foods that we often eat with turkey combined with a couple of glasses of holiday cheer to the meal which depresses our nervous system you are guaranteed to slip into gastronomic coma. Many of us find the holiday’s stressful; the most relaxing part of all the merriment is likely to be the meal. No matter what you may have been doing throughout the day, Thanksgiving dinner gives us the opportunity to finally sit back and relax. Often this feeling of relaxation combined with elation which carries over after the meal.

This years upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons it is estimated that Canadians will consume almost 7 million turkeys.

That’s around 105 000 000 pounds of turkey! Kind’a gives new meaning to Gobble-gobble eh?

It’s not a wonder that many of us report feeling drowsy after eating all that turkey. It’s not so much the turkey as all of the high-carbohydrate foods that we traditionally serve with the turkey that causes this.

 To ease this effect on our bodies which is not healthy for us you should try incorporating other foods into the holiday feast2 heads better 1

 If you cook your turkey properly you can forgo the use of gravy as this component of the meal is used to replace moisture into overcooked turkey.

To ensure your bird is cooked to perfection I recommend the following… The average sized turkey weighs in at 15 pounds it will take approximately 3 hours to cook at 350°f covered or uncovered in the oven. I cannot stress this next point enough, so please take my advice and purchase a meat thermometer and check your bird periodically during the last hour of cooking. Your bird is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 185°f. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for a minimum of twenty minutes before carving.

I advise that you not cook your stuffing inside the turkey, I know that this defeats the purpose of calling it stuffing, but it will save you an hour of cooking time, plus it will eliminate the possibility of food poisoning associated with improperly cooked stuffed foods.

Cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish is no different than cooking it in the bird, other than you will need to add some extra onions or mushrooms to it to raise the moisture content to keep it from drying out. Instead of water use chicken stock in your recipe as well.

When preparing your turkey for roasting, gently loosen its skin away from the body without removing it. Rub the turkey with your choice of seasonings under the skin so that the flavor goes into the flesh while cooking, as seasoning the skin only makes for a tasty skin. To maintain moisture in your turkey try loosely placing some chopped onions and an orange cut in half with some garlic cloves into the body cavity of your bird. This next bit of advice is not exactly healthy but it makes for a great tasting juicy bird, take a pound of butter, and slice it into 6 or 8 pieces. Then randomly insert the butter pats underneath the skin. As the turkey begins to cook the butter melts into the flesh. Thus creating your own Butterball bird.

On average the North American continent consumes over 280 million turkeys annually. Over Christmas we will consume over 30 million of these birds totaling in excess of 450 million pounds of turkey. No wonder we say gobble-gobble.

Did you know that only tom turkeys gobble as the ladies just make a clicking noise?

In my career as a chef I have personally prepared almost 50 000 individual turkey dinners. By the time Thanksgiving passes I become revolted by the thought of eating another bite of turkey, and by the time Christmas arrives I begin to develop an irritating twitch around my left eye. The smell of turkey bones being simmered down into mud coloured stock to create an entire week’s worth of turkey noodle-a la king-lasagne-soup is bordering on postal-worker retaliation a la chef.

For some reason the movie Silence of the Lambs keeps flashing in my mind while writing this article. I need to silence out the sounds of the millions of turkeys in my mind.

Silence of the Turkeys. Yes that’s it! I need to silence the turkeys. Writing can be so therapeutic.

Realistically though I should be more thankful for turkey dinners, seeing as Benjamin Franklin proposed to have the turkey as the United States official bird instead of the Bald Eagle. Benjamin felt that the Bald Eagle had a “bad moral character” and did not reflect the values of Americans.

Besides “Turkey Dinner” sounds better to say than “Bald Eagle Dinner” and I think I’d rather wake up in cold sweats with the sounds of gobbling turkeys ringing in my head instead of screaming eagles. Somehow “Silence of the Bald Eagles” doesn’t fly with me, then again neither can a domesticated turkey. Only wild turkeys can fly but for short distances

The first sit down meal on the moon was at a table for two. Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin dined on roast turkey with all the trimmings out of handy little foil pouches.

The creators of Sesame Street’s Big Bird costume used dyed turkey feathers. A turkey yields about 3 500 feathers

Oh yeah I almost forgot to mention that Turkey bacon is just plain wrong to me but then again I’d rather cook up a pound of turkey bacon for breakfast than a pound of Bald Eagle bacon.

For this years Thanksgiving Feast  I recommend a leg of lamb cooked on the bbq. It’s quick and easy and it’s not so big that you have to thaw it out in the bathtub.

 

Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb

 

1 Leg of silenced lamb bone-in

2 tbsp. Rosemary

2tbsp. Thyme

1 tsp. Ground Pepper

1 tbsp. minced garlic

Mix all of the seasonings together and then rub them all over the lamb leg. Pre-heat your bbq to about 400f or medium on your temperature dials. Roast the lamb on the bbq without any direct heat from underneath so shut down half of your bbq. This will allow you to roast your lamb leg in about 40-50 minutes without charring it.

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