Make two recipes of cornbread with yellow cornmeal. This is basically cornmeal, a little wheat flour, leavening, eggs, salt, a pinch of sugar, oil (either bacon grease-my choice-or a vegetable oil and buttermilk. Boxed cornbread can be too sweet and the cornmeal they use is often lacking in texture. Make your cornbread the night before. I always use a cast iron pan which I heat with a little oil and then pour the batter into the sizzling pan to form a nice crust on the cornbread. People will eat some of it so you need to have enough the next day. My parents always had oyster stew and ate some of the hot cornbread slathered with butter the night before a turkey day. You also need a large loaf of French Bread with thin crust, not a real French Baguette, which has too much crust for this purpose. Cut the crust off of the loaf of bread and tear it into long strips. You don’t want to cut it because that compresses the springy inside of the loaf which is what will absorb the flavorings and egg, making the stuffing a little bit like an herbed bread soufflé. Yuuuuum!! The bread needs to dry out overnight. Also the night before, take all of your giblets and the turkey neck and gently boil it for an hour or two in 8 cups of chicken stock, or more depending on how many people you have coming. If you can get a few extra necks, even better. For four people you need 3 cups of cornbread and 1 cup of stale dried bread, making a total of 4 cups. Double or triple that depending on the size of your crowd. For each order of 4 cups you need 1 stick of butter, 2 onions chopped, 5 stalks of celery diced, 2 T of Spice Islands Fines Herbs, 3 T of rubbed sage, 2 t of salt and 1 T of black pepper. Melt the butter and sauté the rest on low heat for 15 minutes until the celery is soft. Let this cool. Take your 4 cups of cornbread-white bread, add the herbed butter mixture, beat 2 eggs and mix them in and then add enough of the broth from your giblets to make a wet but not runny mixture. Probably about 1 C of liquid depending on the size of the eggs, the humidity where you live, etc. You can stuff this into the turkey and bake that way, or put the stuffing into a buttered square baking dish and bake at 375F in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too quickly cover it with foil. Serve the turkey and this fabulous stuffing with whole berry cranberry sauce to make the La Dame show herself off best. We always eat our turkeys with giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, green peas and cinnamon yams baked with marshmallows on top.
To make the giblet gravy, heat 8T of the pan drippings from the turkey (or butter) and sprinkle 8T of flour on top. Brown the flour gently stirring with a wire whisk, about 7-10 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add 3 cups of heated broth from the giblets and whisk like mad to avoid lumps. Turn the heat down to medium and keep whisking and adding liquid, total of 6-8 cups. Add lots of black pepper and salt to taste. Then add the chopped giblets and shredded meat from the neck and heat gently for 10 minutes. This thickens as it cools so be sure to add enough liquid. Make family memories like we have by serving this every year. Our family, of course, competes for whose turkey and stuffing is best.