Thirteen years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, I was invited to Andrea’s family home for a Thanksgiving dinner – my first. I had met Andrea Dunne at university. I was a student then, barely four months in the new country. As I met Andrea’s family I felt the warmth that radiated from their genuine hearts. It was good to be in someone’s home with their family sitting at a beautifully laid dinner table, surrounded by people who were someone else’s dearly loved ones. That day as I was surrounded by her family members, I felt a bit closer to my family who were seven thousand miles away. Strange how that happens, but it does. The Dunne family – along with Andrea – has a special place in my heart. They opened their hearts to me and in turn nudged me to open my heart to them … and to every Newfoundlander ever since. I have always been grateful for that kindness that blossomed.
That dinner was also my very first taste of the very traditional Newfoundland Jiggs dinner. My love for turkey with “dressing”, salt meat with vegetables, pease pudding and cranberry sauce – all drenched with shiny brown gravy – began at the Dunne home. There is comfort in that plate piled with more boiled veggies than meat. There is something about it that says ‘family’.
It’s been thirteen years of indulging turkey dinner – but I have never cooked a turkey before. It was about time my conscience said. It was about time to remember all the good things that have followed since I moved in Newfoundland. This beautiful place has treated me like one of its own. The people of Newfoundland have given me friendship and love and have made my heart fall in love. This is where my daughter was born and this is where she goes to bed every night safe and sound. I am thankful for this island that holds all my dear ones as much as the land I was born in and where my umbilical cord is still attached to.
I have many things to be thankful for; many people and many things. Most of all I have God to thank for keeping me and my loved ones safe and happy.
There are many things that make a plate of Jiggs dinner a genuine Jiggs dinner. To me Jiggs dinner would be incomplete without a side of cooked salt meat, turnip tops, pease pudding and most importantly the stuffing. The stuffing varies in the same way that a Jiggs dinner varies from home to home. Ever since I met my husband’s family and tasted my Mother-in-Law’s simple stuffing I have been hooked. It is as humble as humble can be in its simplicity – made with fresh bread crumbs, onions, butter and fragrant Newfoundland savoury from Bruce’s farm … and there is nothing like it.
Traditional Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner Stuffing
(Stuffing for a 10 pound turkey)
- Fresh bread crumbs: 5 cups
- Onion: 1/2 cup small diced
- Shallots: 1 small diced
- Dried savory: 2 tbsp
- Butter: 4 tbsp
- Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
- Sat and Pepper to taste
- Heat butter and oil. Fry onion and shallot on medium heat until they turn translucent.
- Turn off heat and add breadcrumbs, savoury, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Let cool before stuffing.