Secret Recipe: Sanagan's Meat Locker Roast Turkey with Stuffing

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Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need are:

  1. Good quality ingredients

  2. A phenomenal recipe to guide you every step of the way.

Let’s start with ingredients. Local is always best. Sanagan’s Meat Locker, Peter Sanagan’s outstanding butcher shops, are dedicated to exceptional meat and poultry from small Ontario farms. You’ll also find an exciting array of gourmet pantry staples and sensational prepared foods. It’s no wonder it’s long been a destination for Toronto foodies and restaurateurs alike.

Since Peter spent 15 years in Toronto’s best kitchens, he knows his way around a recipe. His painstakingly detailed game plan is lengthy yes, but you simply need to:

  1. Plan ahead

  2. Follow his step-by-step guide.

The result? An impressive turkey dinner your friends and family will give thanks for all night long.

Roast Turkey with Stuffing Dinner by Peter Sanagan, Owner of Sanagan’s Meat Locker.

Roast Turkey with Stuffing Dinner by Peter Sanagan, Owner of Sanagan’s Meat Locker.

Roast Turkey with Stuffing Recipe


For the turkey

1 turkey – the size depends on how many people you’re serving, - an average bird is about 15 lbs and feeds around 8-10 people.
1 brine kit – you can make your own or we sell a kit that has sugar and salt already measured out to mix with 4 liters of water.

For the stuffing

4 cups of good stale bread, diced (best to dice it the day before and leave them out to dry)
½ lb butter
giblets from the turkey, finely chopped
liver from the turkey, finely chopped
2 large cooking onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked and sliced
½ cup madeira (or port) (optional)
1-2 cups turkey or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

For the compound butter

1 lb butter, unsalted
1 bunch sage, leaves picked and chopped
1 bunch thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 tbsp ground allspice
½ cup madeira (or port)
salt and pepper to taste

For the gravy

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cooking fat (from the turkey)
turkey neck, chopped into smaller chunks
2 shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 stalks of thyme
4 stalks of sage
4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cup white wine (one is for deglazing the roasting pan)
3 cups dark turkey or chicken stock


Boil 4 liters of water and add the brine mix. Make sure the salt and sugar dissolves, then turn the burner off and allow the brine to cool for an hour at least.

Remove the giblets, liver and neck from the cavity of the turkey (usually these are in the neck cavity) and reserve for the next day. Place the turkey inside of the vessel you are going to use to brine the bird (make sure you have enough room in your fridge to store the bird. If you are using a bag place the turkey in a bag and then in a bowl – this will help prevent the brine leaking out of the bag. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey, ensuring that the whole bird is surrounded by liquid. Place the bird in the fridge for at least 12-15 hours (or one hour per pound).

Make the compound butter

Cut the butter into slices and lay out on a plate at room temperature. This will help the butter soften. Meanwhile, mix the chopped herbs, allspice, and madeira with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. When the butter is soft, add it to the bowl with the other ingredients and using a spatula, fold them all together. Shape the butter into a rectangle and place in the fridge to set overnight.


Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry.

Make your stuffing

In a large sauce pot, melt the butter over a medium low heat. Add the onion and the bay leaves, cover with a lid and sweat the onion for 15 minutes (stirring frequently), or until the onions start to change colour slightly. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the giblets and liver and cook for another five minutes, then add the celery, carrots, allspice, nutmeg, sage, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and sauté everything together, stirring frequently until the celery is starting to take on a bit of colour. Add the madeira (if using) and reduce by half. Add 1.5 cups of stock, bring to a simmer, then pour the mixture on top of the diced bread. Mix thoroughly. If you find the mixture too dry add a little more stock.  Taste for salt and pepper.


For the turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Lift up the skin at the front of each breast and use your fingers to make a pocket between the skin and the breast meat. Cut the compound butter into 1/2 inch slices and slide the slices under the skin so they cover the breast. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the bread stuffing. Place the turkey in a roasting pan on top of a rack. If you don’t have a rack, line the bottom of the roasting pan with large chunks of onion and carrot and set the turkey on top of those. Season the bird with salt and pepper and drizzle enough vegetable oil to cover the skin. Place in the middle rack of oven and roast for 4.5-5 hours, or until an internal thermometer plunged into the thigh of the turkey reads 180°F, and the breast or stuffing should read 165°F. Remove from oven, lift the turkey from the roasting pan and let rest on a cutting board while make the gravy. Wrap the turkey in tin foil, then a tea towel to keep warm while it rests.

For the gravy

Tilt the roasting pan slightly to allow you to skim the fat off the top of the drippings, reserving two tbsp. Place the roasting pan on an element on medium low heat and add one cup of white wine. As it simmers scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to lift up all of the bits of caramelized roasting juices. Turn the heat off and set aside. In a separate sauce pot over a medium heat, melt the butter with the reserved fat. Add the turkey neck. Once brown, add the shallots and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the flour and stir vigorously to make an aromatic roux. Add the bay leaves, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper, and then deglaze the pot with the other cup of white wine. Turn the heat down and stir constantly for about five minutes to cook the alcohol from the sauce. Add the stock, whisking to incorporate. Then add all of the drippings from the turkey pan. Simmer for five minutes to incorporate in flavours and then strain into a gravy boat.

To carve the turkey

First, remove the stuffing from the cavity. Place some in a bowl and some on the turkey serving platter. Slice the breast meat first using clean long slices on the diagonal through each breast. Remove the whole leg by twisting the thigh away from the backbone. Separate the drumstick from the thigh. Present the drum stick on the platter leaning against the stuffing. Slice the meat away from the thigh bone and pile next to the drum meat. Fan out the breast slices next to that. Present the platter of turkey with the stuffing and gravy to your hungry (and happy) guests.