The first time I made homemade dressing was also the first time I baked a turkey. That day I hand chopped all of my ingredients. It took me like 47 hours because I’m not that quick with chopping. After that day, D bought me a mini-food processor. It has since changed my life, and I am forever grateful! : )
Most people like a traditional cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. I’m a fan, and picky/somewhat of a control freak when it comes to making my dressing. Its actually a recipe my mother gave me several years ago, and in my opinion, it’s the best dang dressing you will ever eat in your life.
HOWEVER…when cooking for out Thanksgiving feasts, my father likes to make the dressing. And we do things differently. We use the same basic recipe, but he uses dry ingredients verses fresh. I prefer all of my herbs to be fresh in my dressing. You absolutely can taste the difference. And I’m not saying my dad’s dressing isn’t good. It’s very good. He is a very, very good cook. But…I will say I am partial to my own interpretation. Since that’s the case, I let him make the traditional cornbread dressing while I do a completely different version that is definitely far from traditional.
My dressing that I make for Thanksgiving every year now is a little bit of Texas and a little bit of Mexico. It is influenced by the 7 years I spent living out west. Not only did Texas play a huge role in forming who I am today, but it also had a great influence on my choice of foods. I like things a little bit hot and a little bit spicy, and therefore, my dressing is a bit of that.
Several years ago I learned how to make tamale dressing from a Dallas/Fort Worth news show. It is very similar to your traditional dressing, but uses crumbled tamales instead of cornbread. It is a bit of a risk, unless your crowd likes Tex-Mex. Which…mine does. So, I typically make it as an alternate to our traditional dressing. And top it with cranberry salsa…which is amazing.
Again, I stick to fresh ingredients. So, I use whole cranberries, jalapeños, fresh cilantro, etc. I think fresh vs. dry is the way to go. There is just so much more flavor there! And, the tamales add a little out of the box thinking to your typical southern Thanksgiving meal. It’s a nice change!
No matter what kind you choose, you have to have dressing with your turkey. We do both. If I picked one over the other, it would probably be the traditional cornbread dressing. But if you wanted to go Tex-Mex, then I would make a spicy turkey and season it with cilantro and lime juice! : ) I say use whatever herbs you use in your dressing to also flavor your turkey, or vice versa. Helps the two to compliment each other.