Whether you stuff your turkey or serve it on the side and call it dressing, several readers sent in tasty variations on traditional Thanksgiving fare.
Whatever you serve, remember to enjoy the company of family and friends at your table.
For vegetarians, NPR’s “All Things Considered” recently featured a stuffed pumpkin recipe, Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good,” that would easily adapt to become a meatless alternative to turkey. Visit npr.org and search under the Arts & Life tab.
When I first began cooking for Thanksgiving, I called my great-grandmother and asked her how to make stuffing and roast a turkey because I love stuffing and the turkey is a necessary component of good stuffing.
Granny’s Cornbread And Buttermilk Stuffing
1 batch Alber’s cornbread
1 loaf cheap airbread (Rainbow or store brand)
2 cans medium pitted black olives, drained
1 large onion, finely chopped but not diced
1 bunch celery, finely chopped but not diced, leaves and all
1 pint buttermilk
1 cube butter, melted
2 or 3 eggs
salt, pepper to taste
Rinse the turkey and remove neck and giblets from the body cavity. Place the innards in a large saucepan or stockpot with plenty of water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, coarsely chopped celery stalks or the butt end of the celery, onion and carrots; cover and bring to a boil. When the stock boils over, reduce the heat and simmer all evening. Add water as needed.
Prepare cornbread according to directions on package. Allow to cool and cut into large chunks.
Toast airbread and tear into mouth-sized chunks. Place toast and cornbread in the largest bowl you can find, cover with a tea towel and leave overnight to dry out.
Chop celery and onion — a point of contention for some in the family: how small or how big. Personally, I like smaller pieces for a better blend of flavors and textures. Seal in an air tight container and refrigerate.
Before retiring for the night, turn off the turkey stock.
Thanksgiving morning: Remove neck and giblets from the stock and feed to the cats and dog. Reserve stock for stuffing and gravy.
To the bowl of bread crumbs add chopped onion and celery, olives, drained, butter, eggs and buttermilk. Pour a generous amount of stock over the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle generously with sage, probably about 3 tablespoons.
Gently mix with your hands, being careful not to break down the cornbread into crumbs.
Stuff the neck and body cavities and place extra in a lightly greased casserole dish. Roast turkey according to preferred method.
Add stock, about 3/4 cup, to the casserole dish for extra moisture Cover and bake about 30 minutes when there is space in the oven.
This recipe comes from Eva Small who works for Feather Publishing. It measures and makes up according to the “how you like it method.”
Eva’s Mom’s Turkey Dressing Recipe
Chop up 1 large or 2 – 3 small onions, yellow or white — whatever’s on sale. Cook onion until clear and soft in a skillet of butter or vegetable oil.
1 bag bread cubes
Batch cornbread, crumbled
Mix celery, bread cubes, cornbrad and cooked onion in a large bowl.
Add about 1 – 2 tsp. sage, thyme, some salt and pepper.
Stir in some chicken broth, enough to moisten lightly.
Dump dressing into large casserole dish with lid. Keep covered, set aside and wait for turkey to come out of oven. Can also make 1 – 2 days ahead of time and refrigerate.
Spoon some turkey drippings over the dressing, reserving enough for gravy.
Bake covered at 325 degrees for about 1/2-hour. For crispy top, remove cover for last 10 minutes.
Spoon onto dinner plate next to turkey and cover in gravy.
Camille McNeil of Lake Almanor started making this hit recipe a few years ago and it has almost become a Thanksgiving tradition. She said stuffing is usually kind of boring, but this is good and flavorful and everything tastes better with bacon.
12 4-inch biscuits, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes (either homemade or Pillsbury works well)
1 lb. sliced smoky bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions. diced
5 celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley (fresh)
2 Tbs. chopped sage (fresh)
2 Tbs. chopped thyme (fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
5 cups chicken stock
Position rack in the lower third of oven and pre-heat to 350 degrees.
Spread biscuits out on baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly browned, 25 – 30 min. Set aside. Increase temperature to 375 degrees
In deep sauté pan, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towel to drain.
Pour off 3 Tbsp. of fat from pan. Set over medium heat and add onions, cool, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add celery, parsley, sage and thyme; cook until celery is soft, about 5 minutes.
Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add bacon and season with salt and pepper; add biscuits and stock; stir to combine.
Transfer dressing to baking dish and cover with aluminum foil, bake 30 minutes, remove foil and bake until lightly browned, about 20 min.
Breeze Tate from Blairsden sent this one and set the newsroom to salivating. Hawaiian sweet bread can be a bit tricky to find, but Safeway has been known to carry the King’s Bakery brand — THE brand throughout the Islands.
Breeze’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread Stuffing
4 c. dry King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
4 c. dry raisin bread
1/2 c butter
1 c. chopped pecans
3 – 4 finely diced/chopped Louisiana hot links
1 c. chopped Vidalia onion
1 c. finely chopped celery
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh, minced garlic
1/2 c. brandy
1 Tbsp. Bell’s poultry seasoning
1/2 c. apple cider
Salt and pepper to taste
The night before: dry breads in oven at 200 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Let stand in oven overnight.
Cube breads and place in large mixing bowl.
Melt 1/4 c. butter in sauté pan, add garlic and onions; simmer over low heat approximately 10 minutes.
Add brandy and simmer until onions are light brown and caramelized.
In separate sauté pan, add olive oil and celery over medium heat; sauté until tender; add diced hot links the last few minutes of cooking time; cook until tender.
Combine caramelized onions, celery and sausage with breadcrumbs, pecans, remaining 1/4 c. melted butter and apple cider. Add Bell’s seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff bird or lightly grease casserole dish and bake separately at 375 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes.
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