Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes, it's all in the memories!

James Beard the anointed Dean of American cookery said famously that American cooking is what Americans cook at home. That could not be more true of our most famous and fabulous food holiday, Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving so much. I mean what's not to love. A holiday which celebrates the bounty of our nation with the cooking up of a groaning board's worth of foods which are indigenous to these shores and historically bound to the founding of our nation by both our European and Native American forefathers. These foods were integral to the survival of the Pilgrims as they made their first year in the New World and as such they formed the background of the foods that they may have put together for that first feast to celebrate their survival.

The main stays of the modern Thanksgiving meals is founded around the mighty Turkey. It's a noble roasted bird that anchors a meal rich in starches, vegetables and salad side dishes along with sauces and relishes. It is good. Many of these dishes are associated so closely with this meal that even if they were originally from some other source they are iconically associated with the day of Thanks feast. The most iconic of these is probably stuffing.

Indeed, Stuffing is definitely one of dishes that is most high on everyone's list of Thanksgiving foods. There are as many types of stuffing as there are cooks. I mean it's so interesting to me how iconic the flavor profile of the stuffing that one grew up with can be for people. There are stuffings that are meaty, seafood laden, veggie full, and use various starches and bread types. But what they all have in common is they are intended in some way to accompany the bird. Cause let's face it, on Thanksgiving, the bird is the word!

As you might have noticed if you have been following my blog, I grew up in a southern household, albeit a transient one. Being a military family we carried our heritage with us. My folks were very interested in us understanding where we were from and grounding us in our family's history and southern background. As such there were foods which were always present like grits and collards and lots of chicken and rice.

For holidays we had Ham on Easter, Hoppin John on New Years Day, and for Thanksgiving we always had a cornbread and pecan stuffing the likes of which are hard to find. I say that being that it is my family's stuffing and tradition, but I have been making this stuffing for years here in New York and people can never get enough of it. It's so rich and delish that people actually remember it from year to year and ask to make sure it's present on our Thanksgiving Table.

So here is the recipe, it's actually very very simple and makes ample dressing to bake on the side as well as stuff your bird. So here's to the first of my Thanksgiving posts, and if you want to try a new stuffing recipe this year, give it a go and let me know what you think. Enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's Famous Thanksgiving Pecan Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

1 1/2 bunches of celery finely chopped
2 very large white or yellow onions finely chopped
3 8 oz bags Pecan halves and pieces crushed but not powder
1 very large loaf Italian or Peasant Bread cut up into crouton sized pieces and left out to dry for a day
2 large pans or 4 boxes of Jiffy cornbread baked and crumbled
2 boxes salad croutons garlic slightly crushed
4 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons dried Thyme
1/2  spice jar Sage dried ( as in jar from the spice isle)
2 Tablespoons dried Oregano
1/2 package stuffing seasoning (Bells is what I use)
1 pound of butter melted
4 eggs beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl of tin combine and mix the breads
Saute the onions an celery till soft, season then the add the crushed pecan pieces saute till the flavors bloom, add the seasonings till also they bloom.
Add stock and remaining ingredients then pour over the bread mixing gently till combined taste and season with salt and pepper. Add eggs and mix to combine. Mix should be fairly wet.
If too dry add more stock or water.
Place in a buttered large casserole dish or dishes and or stuff bird with the left overs from one dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 mins. Bird will bake in it's own time. Enjoy!

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