I do not know when green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and stuffing became staples on Thanksgiving. Perhaps they were at the first Thanksgiving, but what I do know is they are demanded at most Thanksgiving feasts.
I invited my sister and her daughters to my Thanksgiving feast a few weeks back and I called them a few days ago asking what they are looking forward to eating. They said green bean casserole. I had forgotten that green bean casserole was a staple at our house. It is easy to forget if you are not thinking of it. The same with cranberry sauce, I never touch the stuff so I had not thought of it. These are difficulties when faced with cooking your very first Thanksgiving meal. It sure is a lot more stressful than it looks when Mom does it for us.
I had to go through the cookbook my mother left me and find these things out so I figured it was the holiday spirit to share.
The recipe for green bean casserole is pretty basic, it is probably one you can find on the back of any can of Frenchs' French Fries Onion strips, but for some reason cranberry sauce is a well kept secret in the consumer world. It is probably because it is so ridiculously simple to make that they did not want to patronize us.
Stuffing, however; comes with just about 8 million ways on how to make it. The recipe below comes with a whole bunch of different ingredients that you can put in your stuffing if you are feeling so inclined to do so.
Green Bean Casserole
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
About 4 cups of cooked and cut grean beans
1 1/2 cup of French Fried Onions
Stir in soup, milk, pepper, and green beans into an appropriate sized casserole dish. Make sure that it filled up about half way and spans the whole pan.
Bake at 350 degrees until mixture is hot and bubbling, this should take around 30 minutes. Stir the mixture when done. Sprinkle the french fried onions on top.
Bake for five more minutes until the topping is golden brown.
1 cup sugar
1 cup of water
1 package of cranberries
Wash cranberries and pick out any that are shriveled or look like they might be a bit rotten. Bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Add cranberries and return to a boil.
Boil the cranberries for about ten minutes, you will know they are done when the berry has burst open.
At this point you can add any optional ingredients you have, such as pecans, orange zest or blueberries.
Remove from heat and cool at room temperature. When cooled, chill in refrigerator. If your sauce seems a bit watery, do not fret, it will thicken as it cools.
There are about 100 different stuffing recipes. I will be going over a basic one, but I will list some other ingredient ideas.
You can buy crutons for stuffing in mass for fairly cheap, but you can also make your own. Just make sure it is a firm bread that will not get too soggy. Some good breads are french bread, sourdough, corn bread, or Rye bread.
Celery and onions are common cooking ingredients, but you can add others for additional flavors. You can add chives, garlic, red peppers, carrots, or sweet potatoes to give your stuffing a unique taste.
Fruits can give the stuffing a unique sweet taste to it. Apples, cranberries, raisins, and dried apricots work awesome.
You can add just about any meat to stuffing. Sausage is a favorite as well as ground beef or turkey. Oysters can even be added if you are feeling unique.
You can add a few seasonings to your stuffing, but just make sure they compliment each other. If you are going for sweet and savory do not try to add some random spice in there. Salt and pepper are always a must have, but try thyme, poultry seasoning, celery salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice!
Basic Stuffing with Sausage
12 cups of bread cubes or crutons
1 pound of ground pork sausage
3/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 stalks of chopped celery
1 teaspoon of sage
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups turkey or chicken stock
Fry ground sausage until it is crumbled. Drain the sausage of grease and set it aside. Chop your onion and celery as well and set them aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook your onions and celery until the onions are golden brown and the celery is still slightly crunchy. Remove from heat and add the sage, as well as some salt and pepper.
Place your bread cubes in a large bowl and your you vegetable mixture on top of them. Add the sausage and mix well.
Add your stock liquid slowly. You only need enough to make your stuffing moist. After you have tasted the stuffing for taste, add the beaten eggs.
Now you can either cook inside a turkey or throw in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Be sure to cover the stuffing pan with tin foil before baking.
And presto changeo you have three of the most traditional holiday sides you will ever see right at your finger tips. There is really no room for variation in the first two, but you never know what you will come up with during some experimentation, so maybe give it a try this holiday season.
After a long day of cooking these classic side, never forget to take the time out of your schedule to sit down and enjoy them with your family. Too bad by the time you get done cooking, you are really too tired to fully enjoy them.