Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and it's time to plan for the big day.
I love Thanksgiving. Being with family +friends, cooking, games, gathering together. I'm also a big fan of leftovers including the leftover turkey for making stock and soup.
I remember the first time I made a Thanksgiving dinner. We had moved into our previous house (1988), and were about to be married the next month. My grandma had injured her ankle and was living with my parents while she mended. I was interested in cooking, but had never taken on the job of the "big day". It was time to give the big dinner a try.
We bought a turkey (with the pop-up thermometer), and I made the side dishes we'd enjoyed with our family for years. My grandma was a great home cook. After spending time with her each summer, I believe she ignited my love for cooking. Her dressing was great. When she was no longer able to make it, my dad started preparing the dressing with the same recipe. It's almost a bread pudding, using water, stock, eggs and sausage. It was my turn. The recipe wasn't written down at the time. I followed by dad's instructions over the phone and it turned out really well- for a newbie.
At the end of that meal, and after the table was cleared, the dishes were done and we were all full and comfy,my grandma announced that everything had been delicious, but had one question. Why hadn't I made a fruit salad? Argh! I had, but had forgotten to take it from the refrigerator to the table. Later that day, Gary, myself, and our friend Don settled in front of the fireplace and ate the entire fruit salad after everyone had left.
There are so many places to learn how to roast a turkey. It's not that difficult. You can do it! I usually brine mine, and used a concoction for basting a found years ago from Martha Stewart. Recently I've heard that basting has gone out of style. I still have to baste. It's part of the day. My sister has uses a roaster, and starts the bird breast side down. It makes the meat very juicy and delicious. And yes, I've had a year, perhaps the first, when I left the plastic bag of giblets in the turkey. Haven't we all?
Back to the dressing. It's dressing because it's not inside the turkey. That's stuffing. Our family doesn't stuff the turkey. Why? I have no idea. We just don't.
As I was working on The Little French Bakery Cookbook, I wanted to share the recipe with others. Over the years, my recipe has changed. I use chicken stock and less water, I also add nuts and dried fruits for texture and flavor.
My recipe also uses freshly baked Cardamom White Bread. The recipe makes four loaves so you'll have plenty dressing and toast, and turkey sandwiches the next day.
This year I had the opportunity participate in Jones Dairy Farm's Stuffing and More recipe collection and used the company's All Natural Pork Sausage Roll to create a variation on my dressing recipe. What could be better than a little brandy and cranberries? Two Wisconsin traditions baked into Thanksgiving goodness.
For another interesting twist, I added pistachio nuts. We really enjoy the taste and texture. Plus, you can nibble on the leftover pistachios while you're waiting for the turkey and trimmings to bake.
Here's the recipe for my Brandy and Cranberry Dressing with Jones Sausage.
The fun collection of recipes has a Wisconsin section, check it out!
By the way, see the pretty blue plate? It's Currier & Ives and was a collection that may have come from grocery store coupon collecting in the 50's. They were my grandma's. We use them for our Thanksgiving meal every year.
If you've never used meat products from Jones Dairy Farm, I highly recommend them. The company has been around for 126 years and is based right here in Wisconsin. If you're not sure where to find them, use this handy-dandy store locator. to find their products near you. If you're having guests and are looking for bacon, their Dry Aged Bacon is great!
As you prepare the meal, or join the fun somewhere else, I want to extend my thanks to all of you for your support and kindness to me, my family and The Little French Bakery. I'm so grateful. Thank you.
Be safe this holiday season.
Peace, Love + Dessert,
Please support Jones Dairy Farm, who sponsored this post. It's fun to work with them and their great products.