Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our Family Stuffing

I suppose that, technically, it's dressing, because I never bother to stuff the bird with it and, in fact, have made it vegetarian many times. But I like the name 'stuffing' better than 'dressing', so there it is.

This is the stuffing my mom always made and I don't really enjoy any other kind. (My blog might not show it, but I'm quite a picky eater with some rather odd food quirks). For me and my dad, Thanksgiving is all about stuffing and pumpkin pie. Though I love her recipe, the funny thing is that my mom doesn't really enjoy stuffing that much herself.

Growing up, Mom would use the Franz stuffing cubes you can get at the grocery store with the seasoning packet. I have since found the past couple of years that Grand Central makes unseasoned stuffing cubes from their bread. I had visions of maybe making my own stuffing cubes from homemade bread, but I never got around to it.

The recipe on the back of the Grand Central bag is pretty close to what I grew up with, but there are some alterations needed. First, it calls for way too much butter. I think that Thanksgiving dinner should never stint on the butter, but 1 stick of butter for only 12 oz bread cubes makes for a greasy stuffing. Second, they add garlic to their stuffing, which I found I don't like very much (though in nearly every other context, I'd choose garlic over onion). Third, I like about an equal proportion of onion and celery, whereas Grand Central favors more onion. Finally, my mom always added an egg to her stuffing, so I do, too.

If you decide to make a vegetarian stuffing, use veggie stock and some white wine for the best flavor.

I've doubled the recipe for this post since I always make two 9x13 pans of stuffing for the family Thanksgiving to ensure there are lots of leftovers!

INGREDIENTS
2 12 oz bags Grand Central rustic stuffing cubes
6-8 TBSP butter (this is half or less than what Grand Central calls for since I doubled the recipe)
4 c diced onion
3 1/2- 4 c diced celery (the celery pieces and onion pieces should be about the same size)
1 TBSP each chopped fresh sage and thyme
3/4 c chopped parsley (we use flat-leaf)
2 heaping tsp poultry seasoning (sure, it looks like green dust, but it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it!)
1 1/2-2 tsp table salt
2 eggs, beaten (optional)
3-4 c unsalted chicken or turkey stock (adjust salt if using salted chicken broth)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Glug or two of white wine, if desired


DIRECTIONS
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add the onion and celery and saute the onion and celery in the butter until very soft but not brown
  3. Add the herbs, poultry seasoning and salt to the skillet and stir briefly
  4. Empty the stuffing bread bags into a very large bowl (we've got an enormous stainless steel bowl that works well--you need stirring room)
  5. Pour the herbed celery/onion mixture over the bread cubes and stir well
  6. If you are worried about salmonella from raw egg, taste the bread cubes now and adjust seasoning; otherwise you can wait until you've added the rest of the ingredients
  7. Add the beaten eggs and stir well
  8. Add half of the chicken stock and stir again. You want the bread cubes to be moistened, but not mushy. Add remaining stock as needed, using some white wine if desired
  9. If you're up for it, give the stuffing a final taste and adjust seasonings
  10. Place stuffing in two 9x13 inch pans. Stuffing can be made ahead and baked just before serving
  11. Bake stuffing at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can dot the top with butter before baking, if you like, but I never do
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

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