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Big Joe’s Complete Big Thanksgiving Dinner [Recipes]

Photo by Gary Gellman – Gellman Images

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love Christmas, but Thanksgiving was always very, very special to me and my family. I’ve always had a big table of family and friends and I always cooked.

It was a four day event to prepare for the big day and then it seemed that once the food was on the table it was gone in ten minutes! I hated that part of the day. I always tried to have as much done in advance so that I could be more social and entertaining to my guests. I tried but I never left the kitchen.

Invariably everyone congregated in the kitchen just to watch me do my thing and to talk. My mom would come over early to help and watch the parade, and then get mad with me because I wouldn’t let her do any of the prep work. When I was younger, mom and I spent so many Thanksgivings at friends and relatives and once I had a place of my own, and nieces and nephews to cook for, it was always at my house.

My favorite memories are making Thanksgiving dinner for my mom and my nieces and nephew, my cousins and friends. One Thanksgiving my cousin Chip and I made dinner for 50 of our friends and family. We held the dinner at the Little Silver Fire House and used their big kitchen. We had over 20 different dishes, we hired a karaoke dj and it was a blast, what a party.

One of my favorite traditions that I enjoyed is being up at 6:00am Thanksgiving morning cooking and prepping for the big day, early in the morning a couple of my friends and cousins would show up for a bloody mary. My friend Big Bob who has since passed was the best, he would bring this special bloody mary mix and we would toss a few back to get the heart going. My buddy Jimmy would stop by and have a cold one and a bloody mary. It was terrific, but on one certain Thanksgiving morning there was a string of friends and family who all came over to celebrate the tradition at staggered times, and you have to imbibe when sharing a Thanksgiving moment with those you enjoy. Well by the time noon rolled around I started to feel the effects of my tradition, whew, getting that dinner on the table that year was a chore.

I enjoy the whole day, the morning tradition, the work, the smell and then dinner hits the table and it’s gone in world record time. I would sit at the table in disbelief that all this work is gone in such a short time.

The enjoyment after dinner was watching all my guests go into a tryptophan coma spread out in my living room like mustard gas had seeped through the vents. There I would sit by myself with the last glass of wine overlooking the carnage in my living room from filled content bellies watching them drool in their nap and I would smile and say another great Thanksgiving dinner. I hope that you spend this holiday with family and friends and that you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are recipes for the complete Thanksgiving dinner straight from the pages of my sold out Big Jersey Cookbook:

The Big Turkey

Big Joe’s  Delicious Gravy

Big Joe’s Big Stuffing

Big Joe’s “Too Sweet” Potatoes

Big Joe’s Mushy Potatoes With Sour Cream & Chives

Cousin Laurie’s World Famous Broccoli Bake

I would like to give a special thanks to  Gary Gellman from Gellman Images for taking all these delicious photos at my house.

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