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Need advice & input....Thanksgiving stuffing/dressing

Every year my husband makes the turkey, and dressing/stuffing and every year I complain and so this year he's told me to make it. My complaints about his dressing (some goes in the bird the rest is baked) is that (a) it has apples in it and (b) the dressing that is baked is horribly dry (think croutons).

This is what I am looking for......a dressing where part can be put in the bird and the part that is baked is stil moist (but not soggy). It also needs to be classic......no meat (not vegetarian, but no sausage or organ meat), no fruit, no nuts.

He typically uses French bread and I don't think that is the big issue, but if you have a tried and true type of bread you use that would be great.

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  1. Pepperidge Farms White Bread

    Corn Bread (Optional)

    Heavy Cream

    Sauteed Onions and Celery

    Turkey Stock

    1. No particular recipe to recommend (ours has sausage so it's not what you are looking for) but 2 tips: We use the cheapest white bread available (the generic equivalent of Wonderbread) and it works just fine. I recommend adding a bit of extra chicken broth or other source of moisture to the dressing that will be baked separately, so that it will be as moist as the stuffing in the bird.

      1. I do absolutely plain, boring dressing every year and LOVE it. I like mine quite moist (some might say soggy; semantics!) so it can be sliced the next day, but if you prefer yours moist but still scoopable, toast the bread beforehand. Basically make little toasty croutons and then toss them with chicken or turkey broth with sage, thyme, sauteed or roasted onion and celery, and copious amounts of freshly ground pepper. I like the onion and celery to have a LITTLE texture still, but if you don't like crunchy veg, you can simmer them in the broth until they're tender.

        If you're looking for something "not mushy", I think hard multi-grain rolls, cubed and toasted, are a good addition. Sourdough bread tends to be firmer as well and resist mushiness. You might give your local bakery a shout and ask what they do with day-old bread. It can go in the freezer right now to be used for T-day.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LauraGrace

          I like to use day-old Italian or French bread, with some body, not too soft like packaged bread or it will pack down too much. You can lightly toast it but it's not necessary. To me the key is to use a lot of finely chopped onions and celery. I like there to be about 1/3 as much vegetables as bread. This keeps it moist without being soggy. For seasonings I prefer tarragon, paprika, salt, and pepper, and I would not use cream, just because the whole meal is always so rich. A bit of cognac or brandy is good if you need to moisten it. IMHO no stock is necessary for the stuffing that will go into the bird, but the part cooked separately you will need a judicious amount of stock. I use the turkey stock I've made for the gravy.

        2. Nothing beats the good ol' Joy of Cooking recipe, using the greater amount of butter, fresh herbs and adding sauteed mushrooms, IMO.
          http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Joy-... (click on View a Recipe)

          1. I simmer my turkey innards (neck & gizzard) and add broth to some turkey or chicken stock. I use cornbread which I bake first then cool to room temp; saute in butter carrots, onions, & celery and sometimes mushrooms. Crumble all in a bowl, add some poultry seasoning or fresh sage and thyme, s&p, and ground cumin. Add the broth a little at a time just to moisten for the bird (add a little extra for a casserole dish).

            1. I do Ina Garten recipe and it's fabulous, best I have ever had.

              It's on the food network site.

              1. Thanks everyone. I am well on my way. :-)

                1. I usually use Arnold Corn Bread Stuffing, but am thinking this year of using the 1/2 loaf of challah bread and the half pan of cornbread that I have in my freezer. I do it in a baking pan and it is as juicy as any baked inside. Here's why: I add 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup dry vermouth, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup cream, and one stick of butter; and then lots of mushrooms, celery and onion. If I have around, some leeks or shallots are nice too. PS This is based on Burt Greene's recipe if it matters to anyone.

                  1. My opinions:
                    -Forget in-bird stuffing. It screws up the even cooking of the bird, makes your stuffing inconsistent at best.
                    -Cornbread based stuffing mix rules.
                    -Make your mix on the stovetop and cook until done.
                    -Put foil over stuffing to retain moisture.
                    -When ready to serve, pop stuffing back in broiler to toast the top.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: stalkingwine.com

                      and this is my opinion:
                      the only stuffing I want to eat is that which is cooked in the bird
                      I never ever eat cornbread stuffing. Don't like cornbread at all

                    2. ooh i wish i could help you - we make a chestnut challah apple stuffing that is amazing (not sweet) - but i would suggest using challah, it's decadent. make sure to dry it out so it soaks up the juices (otherwise you'll get mooshy returns)

                      1. I am of the camp that thinks the stuffing is the best part. I use the same mixture inside the bird and the rest baked in a casserole dish; the latter requires some extra moisture, and basting if possible. If you can get to a Great Harvest Bread Company franchise (http://greatharvest.findlocation.com/...) call ahead of time to reserve one or more loaves of the special stuffing bread that they only make the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is their usual soft-crust, tender whole wheat bread (of which there are free samples), but with the addition of sage and chunks of celery and onion mixed into the dough. All on its own, it tastes like excellent stuffing and is wonderful for turkey sandwiches. Used in the actual stuffing, it is sublime. Note: The plain whole wheat loaf is the best ww I've ever had, and despite having no preservatives I have kept it in a container at room temp for over 2 weeks without it getting stale or moldy, but I refrigerate the stuffinf bread because the vegetables add moisture to it.

                        I much prefer a tender whole wheat or multigrain bread to white for poultry stuffing. As I use apple, golden raisins, and diced apple in mine, and never measure, I can't help much on the specifics. If you use commercial broth and/or use a brined or pre-basted turkey, don't add salt to your stuffing. I do like egg mixed in (one egg if stuffing a 5-6# chicken, for example), which helps keep the stuffing moist and cohesive, but do not use any milk or cream in it. Sometimes I put some cornbread into it as well. If I have bacon fat or schmaltz, I saute my onion and celery in that; otherwise, butter. I do not stale the bread or toast it. The separately-baked stuffing will get a crispy, toasty top all on its own. I think a shake or three of Old Bay seasoning on top of the typical sage or savory is nice.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          There is one about 45 minutes from me in Williamsburg, VA. I may venture down.

                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                            Janet, I'm in Richmond too--if you're looking for something similar to the stuffing bread you might want to try the herb whole wheat bread made by Prairie Grain Bread Company. To me it tastes very much like stuffing and it'd save you a trip to Williamsburg. Ukrop's, Kroger's and occasionally Food Lion sells it, and their main store is on Midlothian Turnpike west of Chesterfield Towne Center--I think you could probably even get it unsliced there.

                        2. My favorite stuffing (albeit unconventional) is one made with sourdough bread, italian sausage (omit for you), artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese. It is from www.epicurious.com.

                          1. Anyone have a recipe for sausage stuffing? Thanks

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: capewoman

                              From my post above......add your favorite mild breakfast sausage or Italian Sausage with Sage.

                              Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing Mix (or similar)

                              Pepperidge Farms White Bread (Fresh)....you can toast if you wish.

                              Corn Bread (Optional)

                              Heavy Cream and Eggs

                              Sauteed Onions and Celery

                              Turkey Stock....Chicken Stock optional

                              1. re: capewoman

                                Thank so much, I'll give it a try. Everyone has such great suggestions. Happy Thanksgiving to all

                              2. Our family recipe is based on one out of the old 'Fannie Farmer' cookbook. It uses Saltine crackers and can be cooked in the oven or microwave. It is great with the turkey meat and as croutons in turkey soup.
                                Here's the link: http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/11/...
                                But, please, do Not stuff the bird with it. Make as much gravy as you can from the drippings in the roasting pan, then serve with the dressing.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DiveFan

                                  my aunt makes a wild rice stuffing (with sausage) beschemel sauce, mushrooms, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. And I plead guilty to having substituted cream of mushroom in a pinch.