Coping With the Empty Chair

November 8, 2015

De Tocqueville’s Advice for Widows

November 8, 2015

Two Very Different Dressings + Gravy

November 8, 2015
empty chair
Philippians 2:4
Yvonne’s Traditional Cornbread Dressing

Yvonne York was my housekeeper for almost 15 years. We watched each other’s children grow up, marry and have babies. We buried our husbands. We shared the same heritage, she from Mobile and I from New Orleans–our Baptist faith, our politics and our cooking. And in the process, we formed a deep and abiding friendship that continues to this day. A superb cook, she prepared Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner in advance every year for a former employer to take to the ranch. To protect against any risk of spoilage, she substituted cream of chicken soup for eggs to keep the dressing moist.

1 cup margarine
2 cups chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sage
2 teaspoons Accent
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 cans Swanson clear chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
5 cups corn bread, crumbled
6 slices toasted white bread, torn into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large skillet, sauté celery and onion in margarine for 5 minutes; add soup and broth; simmer for 10 minutes. Pour over bread crumbles; add seasonings; mix well. Place in a 3-quart greased casserole dish; bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Baste with turkey pan drippings if desired. If refrigerated or in a deep round casserole, baking may take longer. Serves 10-12.

Mama’s Giblet Gravy

Fiesta: Favorite Recipes of South Texas, p. 160

While the turkey roasts, simmer the giblets and neck in 1 quart water seasoned with salt and pepper for about 1 hour. Strain broth into a large glass measuring cup. Allow to cool. When fat rises to the top, remove it. If desired, mince the giblets and neck meat. Refrigerate unless serving immediately. When the turkey is done, remove from the roasting pan, reserving the drippings.

2 tablespoons turkey drippings
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
1 cup broth reserved from boiling giblets (or chicken broth)
1 cup milk
Giblets, minced (optional)
1 hard-cooked egg (optional)

Place the roasting pan over medium heat on your cooktop. When drippings are hot, slowly stir in flour to make a roux. Salt and pepper to taste. When roux is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, stir in water slowly to keep roux from lumping. When smooth, stir in milk; increase heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly until gravy thickens. If the milk comes to a boil and appears to curdle slightly, that is okay. (Lev’s aunt in East Texas had to show me how to make cream gravy. It’s not white sauce.) Can easily be doubled.

Mama always added the giblets to the gravy and then sprinkled chopped egg on top, but my family prefers plain cream gravy. If you don’t want to handle giblets, you can use chicken broth. However, I have yet to make satisfactory gravy without roasting a turkey. Drippings in the roasting pan contribute to the flavor and consistency of the gravy.

Completely Untraditional Tamale Stuffing

Published in the Austin American Statesman, November 19, 2010
Attributed to Central Market, November 22, 2004

2 dozen cooked beef or pork tamales, husks removed
4 cups grated three-cheese blend
28 oz. can Ro-Tel tomatoes
2 cups chopped onions
1 tsp. garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dark chili powder
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, crumble tamales by hand into bite-sized pieces. Mix together all remaining ingredients; add mixture to the tamales. Pleace in a 3-quart greased casserole dish, cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes; remove cover and bake about 10 more minutes, until brown and hot throughout. A refrigerated or deep casserole may take longer. Serves 12.

Note: This is really a main-dish casserole and could be served any time of the year. I have never stuffed a turkey with it, but I think it might be sensational.