Need the best Tgiving stuffing recipe EVER
spending Tgiving day with my food challenged in-laws (on of their many culinary atrocities is cooking the turkey 2 weeks in advance and freezing it) and this year--FINALLY-- I got asked to make the "dressing". It will never see the inside of a turkey-- need an idea for something super tasty!
I'm trying a different stuffing recipe this year, from Sarah Leah Chase's Nantucket Open House Cookbook. It's a sausage stuffing studded with chestnuts (Pecans are much more readily available around here, so I used them instead) and brandy-soaked apricots. Head over to amazon.com and look up the book. You can search inside the book to find the recipe; the recipe for the stuffing is on page 286.
I looked at that recipe builder from Fine Cooking yesterday and it seems to look like a very good guide. I think they specified (and I agree) that it should not be heavy and gloppy. Too much liquid or liquid-like ingredients will do that as will breaking or cutting the bread up into tiny pieces.
You can taste the stuffing mix before you add eggs and you won't have to #1 worry about eating raw eggs or #2 have the slimy sticky mouthfeel of eating raw eggs. Just a tip...
Keep from overloading it with meat. Maybe a bit of sausage or bacon or something like that but I don't think this should be a whole 'nother protein dish.
I would also suggest getting a nice loaf of bread from a bakery or at least the bakery section of the grocery store. This isn't the time to skimp and buy some cheap store brand sandwich bread. I also think that you shouldn't overload it with ingredients. Heavy, wet, casserole-like dressing is not a good thing in my opinion.
Homemade turkey stock is nice to have around to add to dressing/stuffing and gravy and you can prepare that far in advance. Canned stocks are good for emergencies and for everyday, weeknight meals but this is Thanksgiving! Put a little love into it! Go buy some turkey wings and necks and go to town! There are plenty of those kinds of things available this time of year in most grocery stores.
I think my main point in all this is don't rely too heavily on pre-prepared and pre-seasoned ingredients. You don't have to bake the bread yourself but buying lots of already made boxed and preservative filled canned items takes away from the homemade flavor.
You'll need one loaf of white bread
two cans of cream of chicken soup
two cans of cream of celery soup
One whole chicken or one pound of poultry pieces (Optional but much tastier with the chicken bits..also with the chicken it makes an entire meal leftover with a side veggie)
1 small onion
three large eggs
one large can (or boxed type) chicken broth (or three small cans if that's all you can find)
one bag of Pepperidge Farm dry cornbread stuffing
one pone of cornbread or about 16 cornbread muffins (made with yellow cornmeal)
salt and pepper
The night before -
Take the loaf of bread out the night before and spread the slices (try not to overlap) on a tea towel. This will dry the bread out a bit. You can even break the bread into little pieces, that will accomodate the drying of the bread. The drier the loaf bread and cornbread, the better. You want it so dry that it crumbles easily, same goes with the cornbread,
Bake the cornbread the night before and break it apart in about four pieces if it's a pone, if it's muffins, break them in half and set the cornbread aside with the bread to let dry out a bit overnight.
Boil the chicken until done and the shred the meat off of the bone into small pieces carefull removing any fat, skin or grissle.
The next morning, prep time -
Preheat oven to 350 (for dryer dressing, 375 for more moist dressing)
Prep a baking pan or casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray or lightly coat with vegetale oil.
Cut the onion into 3/4 inch pieces and sautee in a skillet with a little butter until they're a little soft. Set aside to cool while mixing the dressing.
Get a HUGE mixing bowl and add the following ingrdients:
The dried breads (cormbread and loaf bread) - make sure they're broken apart in tiny pieces. Also add the bag of Pepperidge Farm dried stuffing. Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly.
Mix one teaspoon of black pepper and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt with the chicken broth.
Pour the chicken broth mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix gently, just a few folds should suffice.
Wait until all of the broth has been absorbed into the dry mix then add the cream of celery and cream of chicken soups (straight out of the can do NOT add water!) You don't have to mix yet but it's coming :)
Strain the butter off of the cooked onions and add them to the bowl.
Add chicken to the bowl
Take the eggs and beat them lightly. then add to the rest of the ingredients and mix thouroughly until all ingredients are incorporated.
At this point you're going to have to allow your cooking instincts to take over with the amount of sage you add...some folks like a lot, some folks hate the stuff...I use about a tablespoon and a half but you might want to add more or less...and yes, you'll have to taste the raw dressing to get it just the way you want it. Some people can tell if the sage is adequate by just smelling of it too. You can also adjust the salt and pepper at this time too although you probably won't need to...it's just that flippin' sage that you have to do the taste test for!
Pour mixture into a casserole dish or baking pan (for holiday dinners I always use the foil pans that you won't have to wash or haul home).
Bake at determined temperature for one to one and a half hour. Once again if you want a dryer dressing bake it longer at a low temperature, for more moist dressing bake at a higher temperature for a shorter time. The dressing will be ready when the edges start to brown or the top is firm to the touch.
You can also add in to suit your taste other ingredients like celery (sauteed in the same skillet with the onions), mushrooms, cranberries or pecans (soaked overnight in coca cola...yes, coca cola! :)) Do NOT use apples as an ingredient in this recipe because the flavors will clash hideously.
This pan of dressing will serve between 10 - 15 people depending on the appetites.
This is an old family recipe from the mountains of Northern Alabama (Blue Mountain to be exact!) and has been the most popular dish for Thanksgiving in my family as long as I can remember, It keeps well as leftovers for a few days and goes nicely with cranberry sauce,
I sure hope you try it and enjoy it! It sounds complicated but really it's not. I don't usually give out the "family recipes" but thought I would go ahead and share this one so others can enjoy it just as much as my bunch has over the years.
re: Tom P
I've always made it at least a day, if not two, ahead of time. But it certainly could be served immediately after stirring in the remaining ingredients. (In fact, I have trouble stopping sampling it at that stage so it sort of becomes my default lunch on the day I make it. ;-)
I've stuffed the turkey with it, reheated it in a casserole dish, and warmed it up in the microwave in it's serving bowl. It's a tough call as to which I prefer. The juices from the turkey do give it that added turkey flavor when I've used it as a stuffing, but because of those added juices the texture is somewhat looser. When I reheat it in a casserole dish, I cover it with aluminum foil and try to just reheat it, not cook it further. The one time it sat in the oven too long, there was a wonderfully crispy crust around the edges, but the stuffing itself had dried out a bit more than I would have liked. I doubt anyone else even noticed it, though. And it microwaves brilliantly. I use that method mostly for leftovers, but have resorted to it without any loss in texture or flavor when the oven is too full to fit anything else into it.
I usually portion out the leftovers, put them into a double-zip one-quart freezer bags (I find they keep out the freezer burn better than the bags with a zipper lock--and I don't, at least not yet, have a Food Saver. Santa?) I roll up the bags to get out as much air as possible and then zip them closed. But I have on occasion just put the leftovers into one of those 1-quart take-out containers you get at the deli. I don't recall getting freezer burn in either instance. Maybe I just use it up too quickly?
Thanks for the additional info. It sounds like a perfect "go-to" side dish, and one that will wow. Do you reheat the frozen rice in the microwave? I am a TJ Maxx/Marshalls addict, they often have gourmet foods and condiments from pricey grocers (reduced for the proletariat shoppers like me). While there last week I picked up "Riz Rouge" Camargue Red Rice from France. It is a wild grain rice, just wondering if it would work with your recipe. Maybe I'll halve or quarter your recipe and give this a try (in addition to your original recipe... kind of an experiment :-)...)
I don't recall trying to microwave directly from frozen. At least, not totally. I usually thaw it in the fridge overnight and it's fine if it hasn't thawed completely. I'll bet, though, that five or ten (or however many) minutes on 50% power to thaw then another couple of minutes to heat would work. It's really rather extraordinarily forgiving. I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for you in no time.
I've never played around with the recipe since it's become a Thanksgiving standard and, as we all know, Thanksgiving isn't the time to mess about with dishes the family demands "just like last time." Would love to hear back if you give it a try.
I will let you know, JoanN... I already bought the rice and have to cook it up some way, and your way sounds delectable!
Am thinking that I might defrost the leftovers in a stovetop pot with an extra splash of chicken broth... hope it won't make it too salty (I use the low sodium variety).
Ha ha, I totally agree about not messing around with Thanksgiving recipes. The experimental one will be a totally behind the scenes; invite some friends and try it out sort of thing. ( And yep, I notify the friends and ask them to rate :-)...).
I watched a sausage and roasted chestnut dressing prepared by Tyler Florence last night on Food Network. I am not doing the turkey this year, but if I were, that would be my choice. A simple search on foodtv.net should find it.