Thanksgiving Dressing

All through my childhood and until my grandmother passed away, making the Thanksgiving dressing has been an event for my family at my paternal grandparents’ house.  Gran would set the stage by getting up really early and putting on the turkey.  So by the time I got there, the broth from the turkey was ready to begin the dressing.  I was the oldest grandchild so for several years this was just Gran and me and sometimes my aunt.  Then my younger cousin, Jess, started joining in.  Through the years, this ritual has included my mom, various aunts, my sister-in-law and my daughter and niece, too.  The boys would run in and out stealing bites!

Steps for Homemade Thanksgiving Dressing

Gran always sauteed her onions and celery in butter until tender ahead of time.  I would sometimes help her with this job, too.  I don’t know how many we chopped but I would say at least two medium onions.  The celery was a whole bundle and we even used the tender green leaves on the end of the celery stalks.  

While the celery and onions were cooking, we helpers would crumble mounds of skillet cornbread that Gran had baked previously during the week and allowed to get a little stale.  We also included a sleeve or two of saltine crackers crushed fine.  Sometimes, we would even pinch in stale white bread as well. 

Next we would take the meat off the bones of the reserved wings, necks and various other parts used in broth making.  This would be mixed into the bread prior to the broth being mixed in.

Then it would be time to pour in the turkey broth, celery and onions.  Before beginning to stir with our hands, clean of course, we would follow Gran’s directions for adding seasonings.  We never measured, just poured until she said stop.  We always used, and still do, plenty of poultry seasoning, nature seasoning, salt, and a bit of sage.  

The bowl was huge, and the mixing took a while.  We would mix and taste, add more of this or that, and taste some more.  Finally, the dressing would be ready for the pan to stick in the oven until lightly browned.  Honestly, at this point, I would usually have eaten all the dressing I wanted for the day because I have always liked it better before baking.

Family Tradition

Thanksgiving dressing preparation is my favorite holiday tradition.  It is a time of learning, sharing, and bonding as a family.   I describe this as if it was the past, and some of the people including Gran and Jess are now a part of the past.  However, the Thanksgiving dressing is done the same way today in our family thanks to a grandmother’s legacy.  Don’t expect any leftovers either!

Of course the Thanksgiving Day parades were always playing in the background because Gran had a little tv in the bedroom in view of the kitchen table.  It was always fun to watch for Santa to make his appearance.  That is a part of the experience we have let slide in recent years.  I need to make sure to flip on that parade this year!  Some traditions deserve to live on!

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  1. Sounds just like our Thanksgiving tradition. I remember Mamaw frying a piece of salt bacon and using the grease for her cornbread. She would crumble the salt bacon in her dressing. The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade was a must watch event!

  2. one of my favorite times was the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Gran had an old wood cook stove and in Monday she would fire it up and stew the pumpkin. she always cooked Pinto beans on this day she and I enjoyed our pot of coffee that she perked on that old stove. on Tuesday we made our pies.. she did the crust and I did the filling. loved those times and miss them so much.

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