Special meals in my family of origin have always been something of an extravaganza. My mom is a wonderful and adventurous cook, so holiday meals were often a time for trying a new recipe or pulling out something exotic or fancy.
So when family Thanksgiving fell to me starting about ten years ago, I followed in those footsteps. Some of the basics–turkey and dressing, of course–but some new stuff; one year I made wild mushroom bread pudding. I also made a family favorite, sweet potatoes in orange halves with a sprinkling of mini marshmallows. I’m sure there were some unusual desserts thrown in, too.
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t cooking for my family, I was cooking for Steve’s. Because of geographic separations, I haven’t had Thanksgiving dinner with my own family in about twenty years. So when the mantle of Cameron Thanksgiving was passed on to me, I started out with a hybrid approach, making some of the dishes that Steve’s mother made, and incorporating others that reflected my own taste and style. But the truth is, his family really loves the standard Thanksgiving dinner done well. There wasn’t much enthusiasm for marshmallows or even the fancier stuff I brought to the table. But what made people smile and rave were dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce. And to be honest, I LOVE all of that food. So over the years, I’ve let go of fancy and exotic when it comes to Thanksgiving, and embraced simple, traditional, and delicious. I save my experiments for other meals.
One of our family favorite’s is Steve’s mother’s dressing (or stuffing, depending on where you come from..although it’s not actually stuffed into anything). Here’s my version of the recipe:
Kay’s stuffing (a nice big batch)
- 3 quarts of stuffing cubes (about 18 slices, or 1-1/2 lbs.)
- 3 large onions
- 4-5 stalks celery
- 3 T. butter or oil
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 T. each chopped fresh thyme and sage
- 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
- 3-4 cups hot chicken stock (can substitute veggie if you prefer)
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt the oil in a large skillet. Saute onions, celery, and herbs with salt and pepper until tender.
Heat chicken stock. Put the bread cubes in a large bowl and moisten with the stock. If you’re using unsalted homemade stock, you may want to add some salt here as well.
Put in a greased casserole. This batch size fits perfectly in a glass 9 x 13 pan.
Baking time and temperature is flexible, so you can bake it alongside other stuff. We usually bake at about 350 for 20 minutes.
Every time we eat this, we wonder why we don’t make it more often.
Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.
p.s. The pie was really really good.