November 14, 2013

Traditional, Homemade Thanksgiving Dinner - Installment #3 - Stuffing (aka Dressing)

This is one of those Thanksgiving side dishes that I can't see why people don't make from scratch.  Seriously, it's bread, some veggies and herbs.  No need for those boxed versions.  Here is how you do it.

First you need stale bread or "day old" bread.  At our house no one likes the heals of the loaf.  So I stick the heals in the freezer in a bag and keep until Thanksgiving.  We do this with hamburger buns, hoagie rolls - any leftover breads go into the freezer.  But you can go to the bakery section of any grocery store and ask for day old bread - bonus, you'll get a loaf at a reduced price (usually 1/2 off).  Get two loaves.  I recommend a really nice bread with no preservatives or strange chemicals.

Yum - 7 ingredients
Preheat your oven's broiler.  Place a single layer of slices of bread on a cookie sheet with no oil or butter - just dry bread.  Toast on one side, flip and toast on the other side.  Repeat until all the slices are toasted.  You'll need to keep an eye on the bread in the oven, it will go from perfectly brown to horribly chard in a matter of seconds.

When the toast is cool enough, break it into bit sized pieces and put in a large bowl.

Chop up one sweet onion and four celery stalks.  You can use more or less depending on your preferences.  Toss the veggies into the bowl with the bread.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth (or water) and 1/4 olive oil or melted butter.  Stir.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (available at the grocery store).  Stir.  Taste.

Now it's all up to you. I like my stuffing moist, so I'd add more broth/water and olive oil or butter.  Add 1/4 cup liquid and 1 Tablespoon oil at a time until it looks right.  I also like more flavor, so I'd probably add more poultry seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon at a time.  Tasting often (my favorite part).  

Other yummy additions - chopped apples, dried cranberries, dried currants, cooked sausage.  Most families have their favorite.

You can make the stuffing, up to this point, a day a head of time (Wednesday).  It needs to be stored in the fridge, covered to keep the moisture in.

Then bake it.  Officially you aren't suppose to stuff the bird.  I don't care.  Nothing is better than the stuffing that comes from inside a roasted turkey.  We use a good thermometer to make sure everything gets hot enough.  We always make a huge batch of stuffing, so half of it ends up in a casserole dish.  Bake at 350 F, with the lid on the dish, for 25 minutes and with lid off for an addition 10 minutes to brown up the top.

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