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18 December 2006
One of the writing prompts at Holidailies suggests sharing a Christmas recipe.
Mary printed a lovely recipe for her grandmother's "best pumpkin pie in the world," which sounded delicious, but is not something I'd test out for Christmas because I have my own traditional recipe, which I will mention at the end of this entry.
I gave it some thought and looked back over the years of all those Christmas dinners and realized that there is really only one "constant" in my taste buds, that says "Christmas" (or "Thanksgiving") to me, and that is my mother's turkey stuffing. She doesn't make it for Christmas any more, since I took over doing the Christmas dinners so long ago, but occasionally she still hosts Thanksgiving dinner and a year ago, I finally decided to record the steps as she made her famous stuffing.
For me, a turkey occasion isn't about the meat or the vegetables or the bread stuffs or even the dessert. A turkey occasion (we have turkey on both Christmas and Thanksgiving) is all about the stuffing. If the stuffing is good, the dinner is good. And if there are lots of leftovers, it makes the night perfect (because I know what I'll be having for breakfast in the morning!)
Today's video is a rerun. It's my mother putting the stuffing together, step by step, but here is the recipe.
Start with a bag or bags of seasoned bread crumbs. I'm not going to put amounts here. Sometimes we have a small turkey, sometimes a big turkey and obviously the amount will have to be adjusted for size of the bird. When I was little, my mother used regular dried bread, cut it into cubes herself and used her own seasoning. It's so much easier now when you can buy bread pre-cut and pre-seasoned. My preference is for Pepperidge Farms, which must be most people's favorite because if I wait too long to buy it, they are sold out.
Chop celery. If you like celery, use a lot. If you're like me and don't care that much for it, use less.
Chop onions. Again, depends on your taste. I love onions, so I add more than some folks might. Walt and my daughter-in-law just pick them out.
Grind up the cooked innards of the turkey--the gizzard, the heart, the meat off the neck. My mother likes to include the liver, but leaves it out because of my hatred of liver. My mother is kinder to me than I am to Walt and Marta.
Add celery, onions and innards to the dried bread crumbs, moisten with the liquid left over after cooking innards.
Add an egg or two (depending on amount), beaten.
Add melted butter (my mother uses about half a cube; I'm of the Paula Deen school and would probably melt a whole cube.
Add slivered almonds and chopped olives. I have started skipping the olives and adding dried cranberries instead, because I like the sweetness and the flavor.
This stuffing doesn't really need any seasoning at all, because of the seasoned bread crumbs. See how easy that is?
Now I know there are schools of thought about stuffing a turkey or not. I usually put half in the bird and half in a casserole, and it never tastes quite as good in the casserole because it doesn't have the advantage of all those turkey juices that run into it while cooking. I try to mix the two together so that both get that advantage.
I usually cook the turkey tented with foil and then baste it about halfway through the cooking, and remove the foil to let it brown.
I recently read that basting a turkey doesn't make it more moist, but helps to dry it out. I'm going to try it without basting this year and see if there is a difference, though the psychiatrist always gives us a farm fresh turkey every year and those are about as moist as you could want.
I also watched Rachel Ray recently (I don't usually watch her show, but I happened to catch this one) where she showed a restaurant method of how to carve a turkey that was so great I'm going to have Walt try it this time You remove the entire breast from the bone in one chunk and then slice it on the diagonal, which seems a lot more neat and efficient than the way we have always done it.
Once I have my turkey stuffed and in the oven the rest of the meal seems to take care of itself.
My "special recipe" for pumpkin pie (I prefer the custard type) is printed on the can of Libby's pumpkin. I've made that pie for over 40 years and haven't had any complaints yet (except when I forget the CoolWhip, which I don't particularly like, but which my sister-in-law loves).
If I'm going to make a big Christmas dinner next week, I guess I'd better start cleaning up the kitchen, huh?
Featured Holidailies Entry: Recipe by Wicked Jaw. Her Christmas recipe is for jambalaya. I love that she refers to celery as "the antichrist of vegetables." My guess is that she'd leave it out of her turkey stuffing!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2454