Help! Need a stuffing recipe
- dmfnole Nov 6, 2007 12:25 PM
Last year for Thanksgiving I made a pork sausage w/ walnuts apple stuffing recipe. It was a flop so I need help. Does anyone have a fairly simple recipe. I'm considering something with cornbread or with sausage or both... at this point I just need something good to redeem myself from last year. Thanks!
Cut a couple of loaves of sourdough bread into cubes. Spread the cubes on one or two baking sheets and put them in a low (225 - 250) oven until they are all dried out. You can do this way in advance; store the dried cubes in plastic bags, no need to refrigerate.
Saute diced onion and celery in butter. Add Italian sausage and let it brown a little. (I use turkey Italian sausage, but pork is fine -- perhaps better, though fattier.) I give no amounts for these things, because you should use however much you like in your stuffing/dressing.
Put the dried bread cubes in a big plastic bag -- by which I mean the kind of bag with which you might line a kitchen trash can. Put that bag inside another identical bag. Add the onion/celery/sausage to the cubes in the bag. Add a couple or 3 of cans of sliced water chestnuts. Add some raisins. Add salt and pepper and sage (fresh sage if you live in a part of the west where you can get it) -- not too much to start with, because once those things are in there you can't get them out. Add turkey or chicken stock, twist the bags closed at the top, and shake-shake-shake. Check to see how moist the cubes are; you want them uniformly moistened, but not soaking. If they are not moist enough, add more stock and shake-shake-shake some more. Add more sage, salt, and/or pepper if you think it's necessary, but I'd advise going easy on the salt.
Stuff the turkey with some of the mixture. Take the rest and put it in a big bowl. Add one or two beaten eggs. Put it in some kind of greased casserole, dot the top with butter, and cook it for an hour -- so it comes out of the oven right around the same time you're serving dinner. This is "dressing"; the substance you cooked inside the turkey is "stuffing." They are different, so serve them both.
Was it just a combination of flavors that didn't work, or was it a problem with texture? Too many cornbread dressings come out like corn-crumbs in liquid, a sort of gruel. I think too many people are starting with lousy cornbread or bagged stuffing mix and then throwing everything together at once instead of blending gradually and then letting the crumbs absorb the moisture a little at a time. I also think it helps a lot to have a good portion of good white bread crumbs in there too, as much as 50%.
I'd love to be precise, but as I never really measure this I'll just tell you how I do it: for a good plain bread dressing, I start with about a loaf's worth of chopped-up firm stale bread - La Brea Rosemary & Olive Oil bread is an excellent choice for this, or any other quasi-artisanal country-style loaf. It should be good and dry but not dessicated. Chop one large yellow or white onion fine, do the same to three stalks of celery, then melt about half a stick of butter in a big pan and cook the veges gently in that until the onion is soft, stirring in a small handful of kosher salt, a big multi-finger pinch of whatever herbs you favor - I like herbes de Provence plus a bit of sage - and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper. Then stir in the breadcrumbs, mixing it all up thoroughly, and let it all heat through. Now pour hot broth over all, a cup or less at a time, stirring it in well between applications, until it's all moist enough to mold into a wad but not at all soupy. Adjust the seasoning at this point, then scrape into a mixing bowl and beat two eggs into it. (I will taste after adding the raw egg, but it's frowned upon by the worry-warts.)
That's the basic. You can add crumbled bacon or chopped smoked sausage; you can cook crumbled bulk sausage before cooking the vegetables and use the fat instead of some of the butter; you can add a pint of chopped oysters and use the juice to replace some broth; you can substitute crumbled cornbread for half or more of the breadcrumbs - to which sausage, chopped tart apple and crumbled cooked chestnuts will be added to mine this year; you can add sautéed mushrooms. You can also vary the relative amounts of onion and/or celery, or any other ingredient, just as long as everything blends together and it isn't soupy.
I was always a stalwart in-the-bird stuffer - I was raised with that, and my grandma always had one turkey stuffed with plain dressing and one with oyster - but now I use just a cup or two stuffed under the breast skin to flavor and insulate the white meat so that it cooks at about the same rate as the dark. The rest goes in a buttered baking dish and is cooked separately. The best reason for this is that the carcass gets broken up and used for broth, and the least amount of starch in the broth will cloud it and make it susceptible to spoilage. It's almost impossible, I've found, to wash every little bit of clinging stuffing out of a rib cage, and I'm washing out valuable bits of flavorful goo in the process besides.
Our family, tried-and-true, never fail dressing:
For about a 12 pound bird…
4 cups dried white bread crumbs
8 cups crumbled cornbread
1 cup butter
¾ cup finely chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped celery, stalks and leaves
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons sage
6 or so cups of chicken (or turkey) broth
In heavy skillet melt butter and saute onion and celery until transluscent. Add seasonings. Throw about 2-3 cups of the crumbs into the vegetables, and mix well, then add this mixture back to the rest of the crumbs and mix well again. Add broth until about the consistency of cake or cornbread batter. Bake 1 hour with turkey (about 350-375 degrees.) I bake in a separate, greased 9x13 pan.
This is a classic Southern recipe that's been made in my family for at least three generations. Do not use a cornbread mix or packaged bread cubes. A 9' skillet of cornbread is about 8 cups -- use bacon grease and buttermilk to make the cornbread. Stale bread torn to bits can be used or even better stale biscuits. I also make a semi-homemade broth by adding turkey wings and giblets to store bought chicken broth and simmering them together. *make plenty of broth and use some to make your gravy.) Sometimes I add part of the wing meat to the dressing. Moisture is a big key to the recipe as noted above -- you want it pretty soupy. And I add the herbs by the tablespoon, as we like a good sage flavor. (Look at the ingredients on the poultry seasoning bottle -- sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, black pepper -- and grind your own in proportions you like.) Usually I roast the turkey first, and as it's resting, cook the dressing in the oven at 425 for about 45 minutes or until the dressing is set in the middle. Goodness, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Hope you try this out!
This was an instant family heirloom!
1 bag pre-made stuffing (I like Arnold's Cornbread)
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 cup chicken/turkey broth (unless you're cooking it in the bird, which I don't)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped onions (I occasionally use leeks)
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 cup cream
1 stick butter
Brown sausage. Saute mushroom, celery and onions in stick of butter. Add all of this to stuffing mix, then add vermouth and broth, stir, then add eggs and cream, and toss lightly.
I bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes after the bird comes out.
The last year or two I've ditched the Arnolds stuffing mix, and instead making a pan of Jiffy cornbread plus some old challah bread which I toast a bit, then chop roughly. Also getting into fennel instead of celery and shallots in addition the the onions/leeks. I can never leave well enough alone!