To make a great holiday meal takes preparation and planning .
Cooking pumpkin or squash and having it ready to make your pies should be done in October when the pumpkins are available and mature . Freeze the pumpkin in 2 cup servings as most pie recipes call for 2 C .
Begin saving left-over bread to use in the dressing in the freezer several weeks from the holiday . Turkey stock can be pre-made and ready for use in the dressing and gravy .
Chop the giblets and meat for use in the gravy and freeze or refrigerate as appropriate .
Pre-cook the onions and celery for the dressing . There are many items for a holiday meal that can be made ahead of time to lower the stress level of cooking a large meal .
Preheat oven to 450 Degrees
1 cup of Pre-Leavened Cornmeal Mix - Martha White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix , Three Rivers or for Gluten Free use Yelton ’ s Prepared Cornmeal Mix
Mix cornmeal with 1.5 Cup of Whole Fat Buttermilk . Stir until smooth . Pre-heat a 10 ” inch black iron skillet . You can do this on the stove top . Add 1 / 3 cup of vegetable oil to the skillet and allow it to get hot enough to sizzle . Pour the hot oil into cornmeal and buttermilk mixture , and stir it into the cornbread mix . Add 1-2 tsp of oil back into the bottom of the skillet , adding 1 tsp of cornmeal into skillet and bring back to a sizzle . Pour cornbread mix into hot skillet and place in oven . Cook 20 minutes or until the top of cornbread is browned and starting to split . Turn out on a plate and allow to cool .
For Dressing :
While cornbread is cooking , chop one large white onion and four stalks of celery to get roughly 1-2 cups of each . Melt one stick of butter into a heavy pan . Lightly salt celery and onions and cook them in butter until they are just getting soft . Allow them to cool .
In a very large mixing bowl , add three eggs and one can of evaporated milk . Stir to mix . Add one large package of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix . Weeks before a holiday , my Mama would save any stale bread and the heel of the loaves in the freezer . She would toast these and use it in place of the pre-packaged stuffing mix .
Crumble up the baked and cooled cornbread , adding to the bowl with the bread or stuffing mix . Add the cooked onions and celery and 2 T of McCormick ’ s Poultry Seasoning . ( This is a blend of seasonings with Sage , Thyme , Rosemary , and Nutmeg .) Add 4 cups of stock . You can use store-bought chicken stock or homemade turkey stock .
Mix all the ingredients . The dressing should be fairly wet , but still able to hold its shape . Place in a buttered casserole dish . Cover top of dressing with pats of unsalted butter and a few ladles of broth to help keep it moist . Bake , covered at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes . Uncover the dressing and continue to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until dressing is firm and starting to brown . Dressing should still be very moist . Serve with gravy and cranberry sauce .
Homemade Turkey Stock
To make the homemade turkey stock , I buy turkey necks , wings , and giblets .
Place in a roasting pan with onion celery , carrots , black peppercorns , 1-2 bay leaves . Roast them for 45 minutes at 425 . Place all turkey parts and vegetables into a stockpot and cover with cold water — Reserve roast pan fat and drippings for gravy . Simmer the turkey stock for 2- 3 hours or until neck meat is tender enough to pull off the bone , and the stock has reduced by half .
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve .
The drippings left in the roasting pan make a great gravy base — Brown 2-3 T of Self-rising flour in the pan drippings . Add stock to the roux and bring back to a boil . Add in cooked giblets , shredded meat from the wings and neck , and chopped boiled eggs . Enjoy on top of your turkey and dressing .