For me, homemade stuffing/dressing is required at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. The stuff from the box just doesn’t get it for me. Although, that is what I was raised on, my mother used it. Yuck. I had an aunt once declare that this dressing tastes just like her mom’s, but I don’t recall anything besides the boxed stuff at her house either. In her defense, holiday meals normally meant cooking for 25 to 35 people. We never had real mashed potatoes either.
I have been known to use a bag pre-seasoned hard cubes, and those can be prepared in a way that it is almost as good as homemade. And 2 bags of those cubes can be used as a substitute for the loaf of rustic crusty bread used in this recipe. It will require much more liquid than the crusty bread allowed to dry out will.
People put all kinds of stuff in their stuffing, maybe that’s why it’s called stuffing, it’s stuffed with stuff. I have never stuffed a bird with dressing, I think it might end up being too greasy and not hot enough to kill whatever bacteria might be hiding inside that turkey.
I like just celery and onions in mine. But, feel free to add whatever your family likes. I like simple, or maybe it’s lazy. I also like to add chicken broth to my giblets and slow cook them until it is time to make the dressing, but this isn’t necessary. It just gives me the warm and fuzzies of knowing I did something with the giblets besides tossing them in the trash.
I also like to baste my dressing with turkey dripping a few times before it goes into the oven. I think this is what gives me the super moist middle after I bake the dressing long enough to get the crispy edges I so love.
I do not use eggs as a binding agent in my dressing. I do not like the texture this way. If your mom, grandma, aunt or uncle used eggs and you think they are critical, then go ahead and add them, sometimes holiday cooking is all about traditions.
Because I do use some turkey dripping, and I usually oil my turkey up with light olive oil before seasoning it, I use less butter than you might expect. If you want more butter and no turkey drippings, just add another 1/4 cup of butter to your pan before wilting the onions and celery.
This recipe fills the bottom portion of my broiler pan. If you want less, just halve the recipe and use the other half of the rustic crusty bread for toast and jelly or slice it thin, toast in the oven and use it as a base for bruschetta.
Bruschetta is a great appetizer for any meal, and I sometimes serve it with holiday meals so that there is something available that isn’t so heavy and calorie laden on the “munchies” table. It’s also nice to have things available that aren’t already incorporated into a dish that will be served for dinner.
If using rustic crusty bread or another fresh bread, start this recipe a day in advance.
Cut or tear bread into small pieces and place in a bowl to dry out. Alternatively, the bread pieces can be placed on a baking sheet and placed in a 275°F oven for a few hours, stirring often, until dried and crispy.
Place bread cubes into a large bowl and set aside.
Place butter into a large skillet and melt butter over low heat.
Clean celery, reserving as much of the leafy top as possible, while discarding any dried out and brown tops. Place into skillet with butter.
Clean onion and chop into large dice. Place into skillet with celery.
Turn heat up to medium.
Cook celery and onions until the celery begins to turn a brighter green.
Add sage and chicken broth or water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes. The celery and onions should still be slightly crunchy.
Take off of the heat.
Scoop out all of the celery and onions and place into the bowl with the bread pieces.
Dump about half of the liquid in the pan into the bread pieces.
Mix well until there is no liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Add the rest of the liquid and again stir until there is no liquid left in the bottom of the bowl.
The mixture should be fairly moist with little to no dry bread pieces.
If there are dry bread pieces, add 1 cup of water to the skillet and bring it to a boil, stirring well to catch any leftover bits of goodies left in the pan.
Dump this over the dressing mix. Mix until the water has all been absorbed. Even if there are dried pieces of bread left at this point, I would not recommend any more liquid.
Spray a baking pan with baking spray.
Place the dressing in the pan.
The dressing can be cooked immediately, or it can be covered with foil and set aside until the oven is free.
If the dressing appears to be drying out, baste the dressing with a few tablespoons of turkey drippings.
Bake the dressing in a 350°F oven until the edges are browned and crispy.
2 bags of dried cubes, such as Pepperidge Farms Country Style or Seasoned stuffing cubes can be substituted for bread. Liquid may need to be increased by 4 or more cups.
Other recipes that are also great for Thanksgiving :