All these blended family members can wreck havoc with Thanksgiving! It seems each one has their own idea about what should go into the stuffing. Perhaps this Thanksgiving is the perfect time for a stuffing face-off!
Now most of my family comes from the Southern states and that means cornbread stuffing. Most of the relatives would turn up their noses if someone should even suggest putting chestnuts or apples in the mix. And who would dream of putting oysters or even sausage in our sage dressing? It seems there are as many stuffing recipes as there are people in the world. Some like only the stuffing that’s in the bird while others will only eat stuffing from a separate casserole dish. It can be enough to divide a perfectly well-blended family. I couldn’t believe when I watched my favorite TV cook, The Pioneer Woman, put a foreign substance in her stuffing! After all, she’s totally Southern!
All kidding aside, it is perplexing to try to please everyone at the table with the dressing. So I think everyone should bring their own stuffing and just see which one is “liked” the best!
Passing on the Tradition
When my oldest son got married, I realized that stuffing recipes are almost sacred! He and Jenny were planning on joining the rest of the family for Thanksgiving but Jenny also wanted to make Isaac their own turkey day celebration. Wanting to make her new husband happy, she called me and asked for my stuffing recipe. What recipe? Stuffing is something you learn from your mama or perhaps your granny. You don’t write it down. That would be cheating!
So, I started with the basics on how to make the perfect pan of cornbread the day before so you could cut it up and give it a chance to dry out a bit. I told her to add some regular bread cubes after they had been toasted in the oven. Then I told her about the giblets, how they must be boiled and seasoned to perfection so the liquid could be added to the dressing and the meat could be diced up to add to the stuffing. I told her about the “right” veggies to cut up and sauté. I warned her about putting the eggs in the mix until it was time to stuff and cook the bird. I told her about the sacred sage that is a must for any good dressing. And of course there’s the butter. You can’t make good stuffing without adding some melted butter.
As I hung up the phone, I felt sorry for Jenny. How could a very young, inexperienced cook tackle something like the family stuffing recipe? I had told her to call me if she had any questions. I was very surprised when that phone call never came.
When I got a chance to “sample” Jenny’s dressing I approached it with reservation. Well, it looked right. It even smelled really good. It wasn’t too dry and it wasn’t mush like some cooks make it. When I took a small bite I couldn’t believe my taste buds. Not only was it good and tasted like a good Southern Stuffing recipe should, it was better than mine! The nerve of that girl! I had to work on not holding this one against her!
So this Thanksgiving as you sit down to your turkey and dressing, please do keep an open mind and receptive taste buds. You might find you are tasting the best dressing you’ve ever eaten. And remember to at least “act” like it’s good. Regardless of what some may think — family members are more precious than the dressing recipe.