Chatelaine Kitchen

Federal leaders share their Thanksgiving family recipes

Microwaved sage from Margaret Trudeau's garden! A trough of mashed potatoes that taste like chips! We're so proud.
Thanksgiving table setting Thanksgiving table. (Photo, Roberto Caruso.)

Let's join hands around the dinner table this weekend and be thankful for this blessing: One of the longest federal elections in Canadian history is almost over. The federal leaders may be thinking the same thing as they rustle up Thanksgiving dinner on the home stretch of the campaign trail. We asked each of them to share their favourite recipe for a dish that graces their festive table each October:


Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Sour cream onion mashed potatoes This tastes like sour cream and onion chips — always a huge hit around the Harper-Teskey Thanksgiving table!


  • 12 potatoes (adjust as needed based on the size of the group — it's about 1 potato per person. This makes 12 servings.)
  • 1 package Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 small tub sour cream
  • Chives, chopped (to taste)
  • Milk — just enough to whip


  • Boil and mash the potatoes
  • Mix all the above together until well blended. Best prepared 1-2 days before consumption.
Maple leaf


Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

Turkey, stuffing and gravy These are the traditional dishes served at a Trudeau Thanksgiving — the cook is Margaret Trudeau:


Turkey Brine the bird the day before, and until you are ready to cook (Margaret's recipe for the salt bath includes water, salt, maple syrup, white wine, and sometimes, a bit of bourbon). Rinse it off before baking. The turkey will be a wonderful caramelized colour when cooked.

Stuffing Five boxes of Stove Top. Margaret won’t change the brand despite the family insisting for quite a while. She has tried many times with different breads to make the bread crumbs, but none have the same texture.  Add butter, onions, celery, and apples (chopped very small). Add fresh sage, microwaved for one minute to dry it out. Mix well and put in mesh stuffing bag, then stuff the bird.

Gravy (Margaret uses a Martha Stewart recipe.)


  • Line the bottom of turkey pan with root vegetables: Carrots, turnips, parsnips and celery root. Put a rack on top of vegetables, and place the bird so the drippings from the bird mix with root vegetables to make broth. (Additionally, you will need 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary,  3/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cups Madeira wine and 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper to make gravy.)
  • Transfer roasted turkey to a large platter. Pour juices from the pan into a fat separator. Set aside to separate, about 10 minutes. Strain stock, discarding solids, and return to saucepan; warm over low heat. Place roasting pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Pour Madeira into pan, and let it bubble; scrape bottom and sides of pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge cooked-on bits.
  • Make a slurry: Place flour in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Ladle 1 cup stock into jar, and close lid. Shake until combined. Slowly pour into roasting pan; stir to incorporate. Cook over medium heat, stirring until flour is cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining stock.
  • Raise heat to medium high. Add the dark drippings that have settled to the bottom of the fat separator to roasting pan. Discard fat. Stir in rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 10 to 15 minutes to reduce and thicken. (For thicker gravy, add 1 more tablespoon flour and 1/2 cup less stock.)
  • Strain liquid from pan through a very fine sieve. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm in heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until ready to serve.
Maple leaf


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

Marshmallow yams This is a recipe from my mother’s South Carolinian roots. It is definitely not a healthy side dish. But it is delicious. I don’t make this one for every Thanksgiving, but my daughter was a fan of sweet potato as a child so we enjoyed it several times. She said she would one day start a restaurant that served only sweet potato dishes. It would be called “May’s Yams.”


  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 oranges, sliced thin. Organic is best. Leave the peel on
  • Marshmallows, to cover


  • Peel the sweet potatoes and boil until tender, but not mushy.  Slice and layer them in a buttered casserole dish.  Layer with the sliced oranges and then add another layer of sliced sweet potato.  Top with marshmallows and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


Three camps responded by deadline (Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe's team said Mr. Duceppe's family doesn't have a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but they do go apple picking).


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