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John and Rosemary Davenport

Sharing a Thanksgiving meal together on the Sunday before Thanksgiving is a long time tradition at Central Christian Church. Members invite friends and family to join them in fellowship hall to enjoy the bounty of delicious food and to give thanks for all of God’s blessings. 

Volunteers work for several days shopping, decorating fellowship hall and preparing the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey with all the trimmings.  Thankfully, Central has an abundance of great cooks in the congregation. 

One dish that often comes to mind when we think of Thanksgiving is the dressing (some call it stuffing) that accompanies the bird, either cooked inside the cavity or alone in a casserole dish. There are as many different ways to prepare this basic bread side dish as there are families to enjoy it. In fact, studies show that your favorite dressing is likely the one your mom prepared when you were growing up. One thing is for sure; it is one of the most popular dishes at Thanksgiving. 

Last year Central member Rosemary Davenport prepared the dressing that she learned to make from her mom and everyone loved it.  It was such a hit that it was specifically requested again this year. 

Rosemary is known around the church for her cooking ability in the kitchen as well as her ability to turn the dining table into a page from “Southern Living.” She is the person you call when you need “just the right thing” for an event.  You can count on the fact that she has that perfect piece stored either in the Davenport townhome in Dallas or at Four Oaks, the Davenport’s Longhorn ranch in Walnut Springs, Texas and that she will graciously bring it to the church to help you out. 

“My mother Dorothy Cox taught me basic cooking skills,” Rosemary said. “We had a garden and we prepared simple, wholesome food.”  However, it was my mother-in-law, Maude Davenport, who taught me the fine points of entertaining.” 

After enjoying Rosemary’s dressing at church, I made it for my own family dinner last Thanksgiving and it received rave reviews and comments that it was my best dressing ever. 

The dressing is very similar to the recipe I have always used, but I think the “secret ingredient” may be the addition of cream. 

“Mother was very frugal, but she always saved on the groceries so she could splurge on cream for the dressing at Thanksgiving,” Rosemary said. 

If you don’t have a favorite family dressing or if this is your first year preparing and hosting Thanksgiving you might try Rosemary’s recipe.  I asked her permission to publish it and she answered in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, “Sure, I love sharing.” 

Rosemary Davenport’s Dressing 

2 onions (chopped)

10 stalks celery (chopped)

1 stick of butter (see note)

2 (14 oz) pkg. of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix*

8 cups of cornbread (cooked and crumbled)**

2 (32 oz) containers chicken or turkey broth

10 eggs (beaten)

2 cups heavy cream

2 additional sticks of butter (melted)

5-6 tsp. McCormick poultry seasoning

1 T. pepper

1 tsp. salt 

Notes:  3 sticks of butter total

*Rosemary used the blue package— herb seasoned

**2 boxes of prepared Jiffy yields 8 cups cooked corn bread

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 

Spray large casserole with cooking spray. 

Using one stick of butter, sauté celery and onion in skillet on top of stove until tender but not brown. 

Combine celery, onion and rest of ingredients in a large bowl and turn into the prepared casserole dish. Bake one hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165 on an instant read meat thermometer. 

You can tweak the recipe a bit to give it your own special touch. For instance I used the Herb flavored stuffing “cubes” (green package) and I reduced the amount of broth because I like a dryer dressing.  I added a little less poultry seasoning and a pinch or two of sage.  I have also become accustomed to cooking with reduced sodium or unsalted chicken broth. 

Follow the basic recipe and you will have a delicious dressing to accompany your turkey.  

Happy Thanksgiving.

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