Favo(u)rite Stuffing (aka Dressing) Recipe
I grew up in Canada, so for me "Thanksgiving" was weeks ago. However, now that I have lived in the US for five years, I am finally starting to get into the American version as well.
In all of my magazines, it seems the centerpiece of any American Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing/dressing. In my family, it was always the same - a bread and savory (imported from Newfoundland) mixture - but here stuffing seems to come in all flavo(u)rs.
If I were to branch out this year - what stuffing recipe is your all time favo(u)rite? What is the craziest kind you have ever had?
We've been eating this one since my grandmother's generation. It's very simple, on the drier side, and my mother-in-law, who knows everything about everything, absolutely fell in love with it her first year at Thanksgiving in our house.
1 each Jiffy corn muffin mix, baked and crumbled
2 each Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix
4 each slices bread, shredded
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups water or chicken broth
2 each chicken bouillon cubes
1. Melt the butter with the chicken broth or water and chicken bullion cubes
2. Pour liquid over bread, cornbread, and stuffing mix.
3. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes
I love this one from the Silver Palate "Good Times" Cookbook. Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing with sausage and dried apricots. The only changes I make is to add some chopped chestnuts, Bell's seasoning, and a couple TB of chopped parsley or sage. I have to say though that everytime I see some of the others that other Hounds are doing (a leek and wild mushroom stuffing that Bananie posted stands out) I'm tempted to try a new one, but I would have unhappy guests if I didn't make this. And it's a great do-ahead dish - I put it together the night before:
Craziest dressings I've had:
1 - Shrimp & Eggplant
2 - Oyster
Both of those were delicious. That said, they're nothing like what I actually like to serve with Turkey. Here's my favorite recipe:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (just the insides)
1/2 cup butter
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
6 cups day-old cubed bread (I like to use grainy breads or dark breads; I think one year I used a 7-grain and a Bulgarian Rye or something like that and it worked really well)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup maple syrup (I use good quality, no pancake syrup here)
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups chicken stock, plus extra as needed
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
Saute sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Add butter, onions, and celery to a second skillet and saute until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add sausage (use a slotted spoon, you don't want all the juice from the other pan), herbs and bread, mix to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine allspice, maple syrup, pecans and chicken stock. Add to the bread and meat mixture. The mixture should be moist, but not soggy. Add more chicken stock, if necessary.
Transfer stuffing to Turkey carcass or baking dish or both and bake.
Cornbread dressing is the only kind my mom and grandma made. You must have had a bad recipe.
They never used a loaf of bread but homemade biscuits. A skillet of cornbread should not be cooked till it is dry. I take mine from the oven as soon as iit is firm to touch and gets just a little golden on the top. I use buttermilk in place of whole milk which makes it moist and the homemade biscuits gives it body. Add good chicken stock along with your sauteed onions and celery. Some people even used diced green peppers. My son does not like them so I make two batches. Fresh sage and poultry seasoning, cracked black pepper. Salt is in the cornbread and biscuits so be careful. You can even add a can of cream of chicken soup if you want moisture. Or Jimmy Dean's sage sausage.
1 skillet cornbread and about 5 biscuits crumbled real fine. Try it you, might like it.
I know the OP wanted adventour suggestions. But, I am going to throw my two cents in and suggest restraint. I have had a lot of stuffings and nothing comes close to being as good as a fairly basic bread stuffing.
My base is an mixture of cubed day-old white, slighty (but not totally) crusty, bread to which a diced onion, sliced celery and seasoning (usually equal parts thyme, sage, savory, and marjoram with a small pinch of Rosemary and tarragon) is added. This is then mixed and tasted. Salt and more seasoning may be added. Then water is sprinkled on and mixed in until a loose ball can be formed with the stuffing when grabbed in your hand.
I have used both fresh and dry herbs and both work fine (i've even used McCormick 'poultry seasoning'). The fresh herbs stay more distinct and you get a less uniform stuffing (you decide if that's a good thing or not).
If I'm fealing really adventurous I add some dried cranberries, or walnut pieces. Once I added a little bit of dark maple syrup and some underipe persimmon and used it to stuff quail.
I would be really hesitant about any stuffing that had meat, seafood, added fat, or was going to be excessively wet. The stuffing is one of the lighter parts of the meal and needs to remain so to balance out the dinner.
My favorite stuffing/dressing is the previously mentioned oyster dressing. It was a staple back home, but since moving to yankee country, no one serves it in my new family. I always make a small batch on the side, which only I eat as everyone else much prefers the bread based stuffing they grew up on.
Here's my recipe:
2 # lean ground meat
1 # ground pork
3 doz oysters and oyster water
1 ½ cup chopped onions
½ cup celery
8 chicken livers chopped
8 chicken gizzards chopped
Brown ground meat and pork. Drain excess grease. Fry onions, celery in ½ stick of butter until onions are soft. Add ground meat, livers and gizzards. Cook for about an hour. Add oysters & oyster water and cook for about 15 minutes more. Dressing should be moist, not dry. After dressing cools for a while, break 2 eggs in dressing and beat well.
Typically my grandmother would use this to stuff the turkey, but last year I just cook it in it’s own baking dish in the oven for a while, until I felt the eggs had cooked.