Thanksgiving! Family, fall weather, delicious food and gratitude. That’s what Thanksgiving means to me. Enjoying all of that with gratitude helps if you aren’t a stressed out mess when the guests arrive. A couple of years ago we hosted most of my husband’s family in our home. Many stayed overnight with us and everyone had their meals here. I cooked almost the entire dinner myself for around 15 people! Don’t think I’m Wonder Woman, however, because I started cooking at least two weeks before the holiday so that when the actual day came I had most of it done. Did you realize that almost the entire Thanksgiving dinner can be cooked and frozen ahead of time? I didn’t either until I tried it. Here is our typical Thanksgiving menu: turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, gravy, homemade rolls, holiday salad with dressing, and fruit pies, or crisps. And all of that can be done ahead with the exception of salad.
A friend shared with me that slicing the turkey and then freezing it in the turkey juice keeps the meat moist. In a perfect world I would rather cook and serve the turkey on the same day, but that year I couldn’t. Several years ago I made two apple pies and had an entire one leftover. Someone suggested freezing it so I wrapped it well in layers of plastic wrap and then overwrapped with foil. Thawed and heated no one would have known if I hadn’t told them. So I did that as well. Sweet potato casserole, dressing and gravy certainly work, as well as the rolls. So if you are having a crew or even if you just want to spread the work out, consider cooking just one thing a week for the big day and then freeze it!
My favorite food at Thanksgiving is dressing. I can eat tons of it. For many years I used a recipe that my grandmother used. It involved many cans of cream of chicken soup as well as canned broth. I found an old newspaper clipping of a recipe for dressing long ago that didn’t use the canned soup. Otherwise it seemed that it would be about the same as far as flavor and texture. I tried it and the recipe was an instant winner! Yay, no more dressing with questionable ingredients from the soup!
I hope you’ll spend some time in advance planning and preparation to make your holiday with family more enjoyable!
- 12 cups coarse cornbread crumbs – I use a 9 x 13 amount and make it work
- 2 c day old bread crumbs – I reserve 2 or 3 homemade buns in the freezer and tear them up when needed
- 4 eggs
- 1 t pepper
- 3 t poultry seasoning
- 1/2 c butter
- 2 c celery, chopped
- 1 c onion, chopped
- 2 t Redmond Real salt or Celtic sea salt – probably more if using homemade chicken stock
- 2 t sage – I use way more, around 6 – 9 t
- 6 c chicken stock or broth from cooked turkey
- Melt butter and sauté onion and celery
- Add remaining ingredients, except broth, and then mix well
- Start adding broth to make a soft dressing. Will probably take most of the broth.
- Should be cake batter consistency.
- Grease 9 x 13, add dressing, and bake at 400 for 30 – 40 minutes. Could take closer to an hour depending on the oven. It should be a nice, golden brown.