Thanksgiving in my family wasn’t a big deal. I suppose we must have had Thanksgiving dinner with my grandparents when I was little but I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is going with my mother to NYC where we’d meet up with one of my cousins (the one who talked grandma into more cookies) and her mother. We’d spend a blissful four days, wandering the streets of Manhattan, seeing show after show after show and eating well.
When I met my husband it was shocking to me just how important Thanksgiving was to him. For weeks leading up to the event, he starts talking about the stuffing his aunt makes- how good it is, how much he’s going to eat, if there’ll be enough to bring home, how he doens’t want to have to share it. He talked up this stuffing for so long that when I finally went with him for a family Thanksgiving, I was surprised at how different the stuffing was from what I expected. It was nothing like stuffing I’d had before- it was sort of compacted and dense. In fact, if you look at the photo, the stuffing isn’t particluarly pretty. My husband would say that in this case looks don’t matter.
Two years ago, I asked his aunt how she makes it and she gave me a sketchy recipe since she doesn’t really use measurements. Last year we had Thanksgiving at our house so I made two stuffings- my grandmother’s which involves chestnuts rather than meat and his aunt’s. My husband declared his undying love for me on the spot as well as proclaiming my stuffing, “as good as” his aunts as well as “cleaner.” I suspect I use less oil than she does.
No matter how you do it, this stuffing is legend in my husband’s family. I’m sure your families all have legendary dishes of their own. Feel free to post and describe them. I’m always open to new legacy dishes!
*Because his aunt doesn’t use measurements, it’s kind of hard to say how much of each you’ll need. I’ll approximate for one bowl of stuffing- you can double/triple as needed
ground cherise (Portuguese Sausage)- one pound
flat parsley- a few handfuls of chopped leaves
black olives- to taste- I’d say maybe a half a cup
celery- four stalks
onion- one medium sized
eggs (the number will be equal to the number of loaves of bread used)- one egg
bread (vienna or another bread that has a lot of while but not much crust) – one loaf
salt & pepper to taste (the meat is pretty salty so go easy)
bell’s poultry seasoning- about one to two teaspoons
olive oil, portuguese if possible
Chop the olives, celery and parsley. Set aside. Chop the onion and saute it with the cherise until soft and the cherise is cooked through. Soak the bread in a pan of cold water until soft. Wring out all the water from the bread and shred into tiny pieces. In a bowl, combine the bread, olives, celery, parsley, cherise, onion and egg. Mix until there’s no white left on any of the bread. In batches, fry the stuffing in a pan in olive oil and canola oil. Let it cool and then stuff the turkey (remember, don’t put warm stuffing into a cold turkey and don’t jam-pack your turkey either). Alternately, you can just bake it in the oven until the top is sort of crispy.