East Texas. Thanksgiving. Dressing.
My mouth waters thinking about the many Thanksgiving meals inhaled at my respective grandmother’s kitchen tables. The turkey, and the carving of said bird, seemed to always be the biggest concern and event of the day (except for whatever football game was on TV); but for me, the big deal was — the uncovering of the dressing!
Mammaw cooked her cornbread dressing in a large Pyrex casserole dish. With the combined aroma of cornbread, celery, sage, and butter – LOTS of butter — the BEST portions of the entire dish included the crispy edges surrounding the four corners. I would fight uncles, aunts, cousins, anyone who got in my way, to make sure that I scooped out a hefty serving of one of those corners. For the record – I prevailed!
Mama Jackie always cooked her dressing in a large oval roaster. She probably used even MORE butter, because with MJ, if one cup of anything was good, well…then…two or three cups would be even better! Walking into her kitchen made you want to “throw down” and get to the business of eating before anyone else realized the food was ready. MJ’s dressing was great for mixing with the rolls, the green bean casserole, hot peppers, candied yams, gravy, turkey……
So, the dressing for the Thanksgiving meal does exactly what its name implies – makes it look great and pulls all elements together in a pleasing fashion.
Chicago. Thanksgiving. Stuffing.
First Thanksgiving in Chicago was a beautiful snowy day – something very different from growing up in East Texas. My food anticipation remained the same as I looked forward to finding out if the dressing of the day would be baked with cornbread.
Upon arrival, I was in awe of the gorgeous feast spread out from the kitchen to the dining room – appetizers, cheeses, drinks – it was lovely. The turkey was still in the oven, as I assumed was the dressing.
The timer went off and we all gathered around to see the bird emerge from the oven. And, I, of course was excited to see the dressing. The turkey came out, the oven door closed, and the oven was turned off. WHAT! NO DRESSING! I looked around; no dressing. Finally, I turned to ask about the dressing when I saw an unconscionable sight – something was being scooped OUT OF THE TURKEY! “What is THAT,” I exclaimed, and without taking a breath, “Where is the dressing”?
My new family looked at each other, and then at me. Chuckles began and soon the laughter started. “Charla, this is stuffing. It bakes INSIDE the turkey. Not, sure what dressing is, but we eat stuffing up here.” Ahhhhh.
This Thanksgiving, my daughter-in-law will prepare her AMAZING stuffing! Yes, I said, “stuffing.” After 33 years I realize that at some point, I joined the stuffing bandwagon. BUT, my daughter-in-law does NOT cook it INSIDE the turkey.
Whether you dress your meal or stuff your turkey, may your blessings be many and your stomach be full.