The Best Dressed Turkey

Thanksgiving - First 2

The concept of “thanksgiving” — giving thanks to our Creator for the benefits of life, fellowship, fecundity, and/or food — is as old as humanity itself. The very first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated more than 30,000 years ago by Native American people. When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, they brought with them a tradition of celebrating in November. The two cultures merged over dinner in  1621, when “the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest.”

Fast forward….

Many years ago, I had a lively discussion with a friend about which word best describes the rich substances with which cooks fill the cavities of roasted poultry — especially turkey, the mainstay of  the American Thanksgiving dinner table. Should it be called “stuffing” or “dressing”?

We concluded that white people “stuff” their birds; black people “dress” them, honouring the idea that enslaved African Americans so cherished moments when they could eat well, they refused to demean the opportunity by “stuffing” it.

As we celebrate this year — let’s channel its primordial meaning = giving thanks for God’s gifts. Let us open our hearts to the people with whom we share our feast (even the cousins you may not like). Let’s not sit at the table and constantly monitor our Iphones, nor eat and run to go shopping. Instead, savour every moment…. every bite…

Here is a recipe for smoked oyster dressing that has been handed down from my grandmother > to my mother > to me > to my son. This recipe yields enough dressing for one large turkey but it can also be dotted with butter and baked separately.


Cornbread - DressingINGREDIENTS

8 cups cornbread (crumbled)
2x green bell peppers (chopped)
1x red bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup celery (chopped, with leaves)
1 onion (chopped)
2 cans smoked oysters (chopped fine)
4 tbs butter




2 tbs poultry seasoning or sage
2 tsp salt
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper (crushed black)
2 cups bouillon (made from turkey giblets)


MIX all ingredients together  (mixture should be moist, not wet)
DOT inside of turkey with butter
STUFF mixture into turkey OR bake separately (dotted with butter) @ 325 for 40 minutes (until top is crispy)


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