Lots of really great ideas here; hard to quarrel with any of them (haven't read the other thread but assume those ideas are great as well). One more trick (may have been mentioned on the other thread) if you make your own stock ahead of time for the broth for your dressing done outside the bird, as you should: save all the fat you've skimmed off and saute your veg in that rather than butter. It'll give you much more of the inside-the-bird flavor that way.
Hard to argue with Bacon Fat, though, or Chicken Fat if you have any around.
Our family's cornbread stuffing recipe, traditional for at least five generations. Very simple. Very good. Nowadays it doesn't cook inside the bird anymore, but I've called it stuffing all my life & I'm not gonna start calling it dressing. Some things are not to be messed with.
Cornbread Stuffing (handed down from Mother Berst)
Fry 2 or 3 onions in ¼ lb butter. Break up one recipe (below) of cornbread (or a couple pieces less) in it and add some chopped celery, salt, pepper and 2 Tb poultry seasoning. Moisten with broth until it sticks together.
1c. corn meal
1c. flour, sifted
¼ c. sugar
4 t baking powder
½ t salt
¼ c. lard (or soft shortening)
Sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, milk & shortening.
Beat until smooth (about 1 minute with rotary beater) and pour into well-greased pan (8 in square) or 12 medium muffin tins. Bake in preheated 425° oven, 15-20 minutes.
(alternate version: Use honey instead of sugar, salad oil instead of shortening, reduce milk to 3/4 cup & bake at 400°.)
Note: this is Chicago cornbread- relatives in the Southern branch of the family will sometimes comment that real cornbread doesn't have sugar. Ever. But all I can say is that it sure is perfect with any bird I've ever eaten.
I was a certified stuffing hater for most of my life due to my mother's recipe, which calls for white sandwich bread (like Wonderbread) and a lot of stock, plus an egg. It comes out quite soft and wet, and I find it absolutely revolting. The stuffing that made me change my mind about stuffing was a recipe that used bread with more texture in much larger pieces and much less liquid, so that instead of one big slimy mass of squished up bread, it was really separate pieces of bread that crisped up easily in the oven. Anyway, I think the bread is key no matter what other ingredients you use - choose a bread with lots of texture and chew (I make my own baguettes to tear up), make sure it's thoroughly dry/toasted, keep the pieces larger and don't mash the whole thing together with a lot of liquid - just toss the cubes lightly with the liquid until moist but not soaked. Oh, and no egg! That should help you avoid sliminess entirely.
Last year (?) I used sour dough bread -- great. Lots of recipes say to remove the outer crust .. I don't think I bothered with that -- what's your opinion on that?
I always saute onion, celery, add lots of chopped parsley, toasted almond slivers, sliced FRESH water chestnuts, chunks of pealed apple, Bell's seasoning and fresh, chopped sage (not too much).
I make a cornbread based stuffing using a boxed cornbread mix that I make a day ahead.. Sometimes add cubed bread too for a not-too-soft Other ingredients are onion and celery sauteed in butter, dried cranberries and dried cherries, toasted pecans, fresh sage, rosemary and parsley, homemade chicken stock, salt and pepper. I find the key to be a good amount of butter and you can adjust liquid to your liking. Bake it outside the bird in a large but shallow pan and you'll have more crispy top and less of the "slimy" you don't like.
I make my mother's stuffing - I love it too much to try any other recipe. Here's an outline of what goes in it:
Bacon, cut small, about 1/3 lb.
1 large onion, chopped
Celery, chopped - a cup or two
Mushrooms, chopped fine 8 oz.
Turkey liver (no gizzards or hearts) chopped very fine
Dried bread cubes- about 12 cups full - sometimes I can find bags of it at the bakery, sometimes I cube a loaf or two of French bread and bake till dry in the oven.
Sage, pepper, parsley - to taste
Egg, lightly beaten with fork
Chicken stock and/ or water
Saute the bacon first, take out the crispy bits, leave the fat in the pan. Throw in the vegetables, saute till slightly soft, add liver and cook briefly just till no longer pink.
Mix it all up in a bowl (including the bacon fat) with bread cubes, egg, bacon, herbs.
Pour on the stock or water, stir in, add more till it's the right consistency for you.
Drizzle (or pour) butter over top, depending on how much you want to use.
I roast half my stuffing in the turkey, and half in a pyrex dish, since my bird is never big enough.
This smells so good when I am sauteing it, I have to go outside and come back in to get a good warm whiff of it. That smell, with the sound of the Thanksgiving parade on TV in the background is what Thanksgiving is all about.