It’s a lucky thing Christmas and Thanksgiving only come around once a year. Because yes, I do cook every dish from scratch, including the desserts on that menu! It’s always two days of cooking for 20 minutes of eating, and while it seems an awful lot of work, I do enjoy the ritual of preparing all that food.
The main course of our meal generally looks like this:
- Brined Turkey
- Spiral sliced ham
- Sweet potato souffle
- Andoille Sausage Stuffing
- Green bean casserole or other green bean dish
- Cranberry-Orange relish
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
I’ve been asked a few times why the ham AND the turkey. It’s the way it’s been as long as I can remember, and I continued the tradition when I moved out. In the end, it comes down to the fact we usually make gumbo in the days after Christmas, and you can’t make a good gumbo (or jambalaya) without ham stock and a good poultry stock. So we always have both!
ON BIRDS AND PIGS
Dad’s been deep-frying turkeys in crawfish pots for more years than I can count, all shot full of spicy marinades. I did mine that way, too, for a number of years before I tired of disposing of all the peanut oil. We have collectively moved to brining our turkeys; Alton Brown’s is the best I’ve had. Always moist and juicy!
The ham I guess I do cheat a little on. We always get the kind you only have to heat up. It’s also a bonus that the hams are pre-cut! I am usually borrowing a neighbor’s stove to get everything baked, but when this hasn’t been available, we’ve been known to use crock pots and grills and portable roasters to get the ham cooked and everything to the table at once.
SWEET POTATO SOUFFLE
One of my many many faults is that when I say Thanksgiving dinner is a 4pm, I mean it. So when my favorite neighbors were late for dinner one year by about an hour, all was forgiven and then some once I wrapped my lips around these sweet potatoes. I coulda died—only wish they had shown up sooner so I could have eaten less turkey and more sweet potatoes! So thank, you Julianne, we continue to enjoy this recipe!
- 3 large cooked sweet potatoes, pureed
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup butter softened
Mix all potato casserole ingredients together in processor and process until well blended. Put into a greased baking dish and add topping that has been mixed together and crumbled over potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE STUFFING
When this made its debut at Biggs Manor in 2003, we knew we had a winner. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas since, we have religiously made this stuffing. We chose it at first because it paid homage to our Louisiana roots, but since then have made it because it was so darn good! Andouille sausage is very much a regional item, so if you can’t find it, substitute a spicy smoked sausage. I also always get the best results using a fresh made (from the recipe on the cornmeal can) loaf of cornbread. My brother uses and swears by the Jiffy mixes, but I just don’t think it’s as good; but if you use this recipe, you’ll find your own preference!
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 1 pound andouille sausages, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
- 1 12-ounce package breakfast-style bulk sausage
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped red bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 loaf cornbread, cubed
- 1 cups (about) combination of chicken broth and ham stock.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all sausages and cook until brown and cooked through, breaking up bulk sausage with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Add onions, celery and red bell peppers. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Stir in green onions, thyme, hot pepper sauce and sage. Transfer sausage mixture to large bowl. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Stir cubed cornbread into sausage mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
To bake all of stuffing in baking dish: Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Add enough broth/stock to stuffing to moisten (about 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups.) Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down; bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes longer.