A beautifully browned turkey is typically the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday table. The presentation and carving of the bird and the distribution of the crispy skin and white or dark meat is a central part of the meal. While I can appreciate turkey, it's the side dishes that I look forward to. The fall bounty of vegetables and the traditional recipes that my family enjoys during the holidays are worth waiting for all year.
Thanksgiving is one of the only times of the year that my sister, Sandra, makes her delicious fried corn. My mother's buttery cornbread dressing has been my "after-gluttony-day" breakfast for as long as I can remember. Here are the recipes for my family's sensational side dishes. Happy Thanksgiving!
1 stick butter, plus 2 tablespoons
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Melt the stick of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the sugar and salt, stirring well until the sugar melts. Add the corn and black pepper. Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently until kernels are tender. Serves 8.
6 cups crumbled, day-old cornbread
3 cups seasoned, dried breadcrumbs
2 cups sautéed vegetables (see recipe below)
3 to 4 cups seasoned broth (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces unsalted butter, softened for greasing pan
Cooked turkey neck meat, chopped gizzards and livers, optional (see recipe below)
Heat oven to 400 F. In a large mixing bowl, combine cornbread and dried breadcrumbs. Combine sautéed vegetables with bread mixture. Stir in the cooled, seasoned broth and any vegetables, using enough to moisten the bread mixture, without making it too wet or soupy. Reserve the rest of the broth.
Mix in the poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and beaten eggs, blending well. Add in the diced turkey meat, livers and gizzards, if desired.
Lightly grease a large shallow baking or roasting pan measuring about 10-by-15 inches with the butter. Spread the dressing mixture in the pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and a crust has formed around the edges of the pan.
Sautéed vegetables and seasoned broth
This seasoned broth is a delicious way to moisten your dressing mixture. It also makes a wonderful base for gravies, soups and sauces.
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 cups onion, chopped, divided
2 cups finely chopped celery, divided
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
Turkey neck, gizzards and liver
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onion, celery and poultry seasoning. Sauté the vegetables in the butter until tender. Do not brown. Remove half of the vegetables from the pan and set aside to cool.
Add the chicken broth, turkey neck, gizzards and the liver to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the meat is done and tender. Set the broth aside to cool.
Remove the neck, gizzards and liver from the broth. Pick the meat from the turkey neck and dice the turkey meat, the gizzards and livers. Use the cooled broth and the diced turkey mixture in the cornbread-dressing recipe above.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis. (c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.