For those of you who don’t know or haven’t guessed, I am Italian—as far back as we can see, on both sides of my family. Among the many benefits of being Italian is that we know how to celebrate holidays with gusto. Food, prepared with love and care, is integral to our holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving Traditions are always over-the-top in my family. We celebrated with my paternal Aunt Dolores, Uncle Eddie, and their children, Karen, Lisa, Eddie, and Steven. Our family alternated the responsibility annually, one year at our home, the next at theirs. We always included my maternal grandparents and often included friends.
During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I polished each piece of sterling and ironed each napkin (I believe the going rate was 5 cents a piece!), and my brother chopped wood for the wood-burning stoves with my Babbo (who paid him a lot better!). The dinner itself took days to prepare. The table took an hour (or more) to set with our special occasion china, crystal, sterling, candles, flowers, handmade place cards, “feet” for the bird, etc.
The food was always epic…
and we inevitably had 5 or 6 courses of fabulous homemade delicacies from antipasto to minestrone soup to homemade ravioli, to eggplant Parmesan to wild mushrooms (that my Uncle Eddie foraged himself and has not yet shared with us where the secret spots are) to roasted chestnuts and much more. After the 3rd course and before the turkey, we’d inevitably have to take an intermission. I can remember that as young children we used to get dressed up for Thanksgiving in what were usually restrictive clothes, and then as adolescents, we would wear comfortable clothes that expanded at the midline, so we could eat until we were overstuffed. I’m shaking my head at the memory.
What I remember most about Thanksgiving is how much we used to laugh. The DiOrios are great storytellers. My Uncle Eddie, my cousins Karen and Lisa, and my Dad are especially good storytellers. In their perfect RI accents (http://bit.ly/bMrOT4) with their wild gesticulations, they would tell tale after tale until we were all laughing so hard we were crying. I miss that, but I am grateful to have experienced it so richly and fully.
As I created family traditions with my own children, I try to incorporate some of the elements that made my family of origin’s celebration so very special. For example, I enlisted the “help” of my children to make the Thanksgiving recipes we like most. One recipe that is always a hit in our house is our stuffing. There were many “jobs” to delegate and share, and the end result is amazing. As with many Italian recipes, the measurements are not precise, but I am going to share this with the hope that you will experiment with your children. Now on to our Thanksgiving Traditions.
DiOrio Family Turkey Stuffing
- 2-3 loaves of white bread (I know. Don’t judge.)
- 2-3 yellow onions
- 1 bunch of celery
- 4-8 eggs (beaten with a fork)
- 1 lb. sausage meat (removed from the casing; pork breakfast sausage for those of you who are cooking for the unadventurous pallet, mild (or even hot) Italian sausage for those of you who are cooking for the curious palate).
- 2 lbs. ground pork blade meat
- poultry seasoning
- salt and pepper
- Toast 2-3 loaves of slices white bread
- Chop 2-3 yellow onions
- 2 cups (or so) of celery
Making the stuffing
- Sauté 1 lb. sausage meat with 2 lbs. pork blade meat and drain the excess fat
- Wet the toasted bread and then squeeze it dry. Put it in a large mixing bowl.
- Add 4-8 hand-beaten eggs (depending on how much bread you’ve toasted—4 eggs for 2 loaves and 8 eggs for 3 loaves).
- Then add the sautéed meat and the chopped vegetables.
- Add poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper until it smells great to you.
- Mix with an electric mixer.
- Stuff your turkey (being mindful that you are working with raw eggs). Put the leftover stuffing in a covered casserole dish and bake it next to the turkey during the last 45 minutes it is in the oven.
From all of us at OnlineMom to all of you, have an especially grateful and wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family. Thank you for reading Thanksgiving Traditions with your Kids – DiOrio Family Turkey Stuffing.
By Rana DiOrio, author of the award-winning What Does It Mean To Be . . . ?® series
NOTE: This post originally appeared on the Little Pickle Press blog in November 2010 and has been adapted by the writer for OnlineMom.