by Paula Deen
I don’t mess around with Thanksgiving. It’s one of those holidays where a traditional meal really counts. Every year the family gathers in the kitchen and Jamie says grace, thankin’ the Lord for all of our many blessings. Then we pull up to a table overflowin’ with tried-and-true recipes like Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potato Souffle, giblet gravy and my wonderful ambrosia cranberry sauce. And I don’t vary from that. I give everybody their favorites—the dishes that always deliver. In fact, I don’t recommend anybody using this holiday to pull out a brand new recipe. No surprises on Thanksgiving. Sometimes surprises work out all right, but real comfort food comes from doing what you’ve always done best.
It’s become a tradition for my friends and family to bring one special dish to our dinner table, letting them show off their cooking ability. My niece Corrie is famous for her fabulous broccoli casserole and my sister-in-law Jodi makes a delicious squash casserole. This makes my life a lot easier and I get to enjoy other people’s cooking as well. Now we sit down to a family meal that truly is a family affair.
Now, you may be thinking, “Oh, I’d never cook for you, Paula!” But people who know me best love to cook for me ‘cause they know how much I enjoy other people’s cooking. Especially homecookin’. I’m not blown away too much with hooty-tooty restaurant cooking. But I so enjoy homecookin’ because everybody has a different interpretation. You can give 10 people the same recipe for cornbread stuffing and chances are it’s gonna look different on every one of ‘em. I just love a dish made from the heart, especially when that person is so near and dear to my own.
Y’all, I believe in treating company like family and family like company—it’s a rule I live by. So I don’t expect anyone to lose sleep over bringing a dish to my Thanksgiving dinner. I’m no different than so many women out there across America. I’m not schooled; I learned from my grandmother. A lot of people come into my kitchen and they’re intimidated at first, but not once they get to know me. My favorite dishes are made by my favorite people. That’s why I think that sharing your best Thanksgiving recipe with your family is like giving them a little piece of yourself. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, there’s nothing to be more thankful for than that.
Paula’s Traditional Southern Thanksgiving:
Deep Fried Turkey
Easy Yeast Rolls
Southern Cornbread Stuffing
Oyster Dressing (For Michael)
Green Beans and New Potatoes
Wayne’s Cranberry Sauce
Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potato Souffle
Ol’ No. 7 Yams
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Giblet Gravy (A How-To article with recipe!)
Chocolate Pecan Pie