I get many requests from people looking for lost recipes, but especially around the Holidays.
There are many reasons why people don’t have their family recipes.
Some family members didn’t want to share them, the recipes were not written down, or they just hadn’t taken the time to learn the recipe until it was too late.
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to sit down with the cooks in your family, write down their recipes and share the family traditions and history!
In this post, I’m sharing a little of my own family history along with my family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipe which I only cook once a year!
My family came to America in 1963, when John F. Kennedy was President of the United States. We came here, thanks to my Aunt Isabel, my mother’s sister, who immigrated to America when she was only 16 years old.
She sailed here by ship and passed through the historical landmark of Ellis Island in New York. She eventually became a US Citizen and later filed the paperwork for my mother and her family to immigrate!
My parents were typical Portuguese immigrants, who idolized President Kennedy because he was a proponent of Immigration, which eventually led to the Immigration Act of 1965.
This act, allowed my two older brothers who were living in Brazil at that time to join our family in the USA a few short years after we arrived here.
A soft velvety tapestry of JFK hung on the walls of most Portuguese family living rooms those days. I still have the one my parents had, neatly stored away in my cedar chest as a reminder of our family’s journey of coming to America.
President Kennedy was assassinated only 6 months later and like so many of others, I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard about it. I cried but I don’t think I knew why it affected me so much. Perhaps it was because my mother was crying.
Like so many before them my parents grew to love America and they were happy and grateful to move here. They followed the dream of a better life for their family, opportunity, and freedom from living in a country ruled by Salazar who was the dictator at that time.
I remember my first day in America, but that story is for another day and another recipe.
Like most Portuguese immigrants in America, my family has embraced the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving since we were very grateful for the blessings of the food, our health, friends, and family.
I was very young when I watched my mother prepare our family’s first Thanksgiving diner, but I remember it vividly.
A friend of hers came by the night before Thanksgiving to teach her how to brine the turkey, and to make the stuffing.
I didn’t understand why they had to drown the poor bald turkey in a big plastic tub filled with salt, water and lemons since it was already dead anyway!
I watched in horror as they prepared the stuffing by peeling the sagging skin hanging off the turkey neck and then chopping up the cooked heart and the liver! Yuk!. I said to myself, I would never make that stuffing for my family, but of course I did.
Despite hating what I saw, I couldn’t leave that kitchen because I wanted to see, what this Thanksgiving cooking fuss was about anyway?
Many years later, I began preparing my mother’s stuffing recipe for my own family and it’s become the favorite side dish on our Thanksgiving table every year!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
*Note that every family has a special Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. Some use meats in their stuffing, while some add chourica to the bread mix. I also use Pepperidge farm stuffing mix for an authentic Thanksgiving flavor. I suggest you try this recipe a couple of times to perfect to your taste by substituting your favorite meats, or bread stuffing mix. You can order chourica online at Gaspars Linguica.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Portuguese Style – Thanksgiving Stuffing with Giblets – Serves 12 +
Giblets & Stock
Turkey Giblets (which come inside turkey – neck, liver, heart, gizzard)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 celery stock (chopped)
4 cups of water
4 cups of chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
Ground Meat & Bread Stuffing
1 lb ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage meat (this is optional)
1/2 cup diced Chourica or Linguica sausage (this is optional)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Paprika (omit if you use chourica)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small diced onion
3 tbsp of olive oil
3 or 4 day old Portuguese rolls cut into cubes
4 cups of Pepperidge Farms stuffing mix with herbs (optional but use more bread instead and add 1/2 teaspoon of sage)
2 tsp very finely chopped parsley
How to cook giblets and stock:
Place the water, onion, garlic, celery, stock, and seasonings in a large stock pan and bring to a boil.
Rinse the giblets and neck and place them (except the liver) into the pan.
Cover, and cook on medium heat for at least 1 hour.
*Add liver during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
*The giblets should very well cooked, let cook longer if needed.
Remove the giblets from pan but save the stock. When giblets and neck are cooled, trim the meat by removing any ten-dints, veins or skin.
Place the trimmed meat in a food processor and pulse until they are the consistency of ground meat or leave chunky if you prefer.
*Prepare meat for stuffing
Saute ground meat in olive oil with onions and seasonings until cooked. Add the diced Chourica the meat and mix.
Place in a food processor and pulse about 5 times until you get a smooth like consistency – (or chunky if you prefer
Strain your giblet turkey broth into a large bowl. Add the Portuguese rolls.
Let the rolls absorb the broth until they are soft. Add the cooked onion, garlic and celery from the broth. Mash well with your hand or a potato masher.
Add stuffing mix, ground meat mixture, and giblets. Mix until well incorporated.
At this point it’s up to you, if like a wet stuffing leave it alone, if you like a dry stuffing, add more stuffing mix or bread. If you find the stuffing dry add more broth.
Taste the stuffing and add salt or seasonings to your taste.
Add 2 eggs, and parsley. Mix well.
Spray or grease with margarine, a souffle, or baking pan which is at least 4 inches deep and big enough to hold all of the stuffing
Pour in the stuffing and cover with foil. Cook for at least 45 minutes at 350. If you want a crispy top remove foil during the last 15 minutes.
* Important – If you make this the day before. Let it cool – cover and store in refrigerator. (Heat up in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 F oven, or one portion at at time in the microwave.)