Turkey isn’t the lone star

Preparing a couple of southern-flavored sides will send guests home with plenty to be thankful about.

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 10, 2011

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Thanksgiving will be a special family fete this year because cousins Myna (Carl’s sister) and Erv will be celebrating their wedding anniversary. Myna, a professor at Delaware State University, is not from the cooks. She has never roasted a turkey, so I will be the professor for a day and show her the way.

Although I do not like to tamper with Thanksgiving dishes, I like to put a bit of a tasty twist to the recipes. This most American of holidays is no time to experiment with a new recipe which may sound interesting. You might see some guests, especially kids, with their noses up at the table.

Southern food is my favorite American cuisine. I have a large collection of southern cookbooks. This year, I will feature dressings, side dishes, vegetables and desserts from the Deep South.

Let’s begin with stuffing, which Southerners call dressing. Dressings are baked in a casserole dish. They are not crammed into the cavity of the turkey. Cornbread is the bread of choice down south. If nuts are called for in the recipe, you can be sure they are pecans. Fresh sage leaves are always used in dressings along with chicken or turkey stock.

Tre Wilcox of Texas prepared an Award-Winning Dressing on “Top Chef.” He used cornbread, jalapeno peppers, cheddar cheese and bacon. I played with his recipe, but used Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix. A big thank you to this talented man. It is a welcome and tasty change from my mushroom stuffing I always prepare.

Next week, I will allay any first-time fears for turkey-roasting virgins. My bird, which I buy from Godshall’s in the Reading Terminal Market, always comes out moist, juicy and delicious.


Tre Wilcox’s Award-Winning Dressing


Vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a 12-inch skillet
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 large sage leaves
1 14-ounce bag of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix
1 15-ounce can of chicken stock, or more if needed
4 to 6 ounces of cheddar cheese, grated
6 slices of thick slab Applewood smoked bacon, sliced and crisped in a skillet
Vegetable spray for greasing the casserole dish


Heat the oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add the onion, celery and jalapeno pepper and sauté for about eight minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Season with the salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the sage leaves and stuffing mix into a large mixing bowl. Add the onion-celery mix to the stuffing and blend well. Add the stock and blend well. If stuffing feels a bit dry, add more stock or water to get a moist consistency.

Add half of the cheese and bacon to the stuffing mix. Blend well. Place in a greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese and bacon.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and bake for 15 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Serves six.

Glazed Autumn Vegetables from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table by Frank Stitt


4 cipollini onions, peeled and trimmed
4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into quarters
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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