Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - White Bread Stuffing

Well, it doesn't photograph well, but people are passionate about stuffing! It's already one of Jack's favorites. I've made Thanksgiving dinner most years for the last 16 years, and about 10 years ago, I thought I would try something different from the typical Northern white bread stuffing I grew up with. I tried cornbread, sourdough, sausage, craisins, etc - it was fine.

And then three years ago I asked my mom to make the stuffing. When I tasted her stuffing, it was like a Proustian madeleine - I was transported back to childhood Thanksgiving meals in New Hampshire. No more experimenting - we're sticking with our stuffing.

Here's how I do it. I think this method answers some of the common anxieties about stuffing: food safety and abundance. I make two batches; make one in the bird and one in the oven; mix them together and reheat. We have plenty of stuffing cooked to the correct temperature.

White Bread Stuffing

2 loaves of cheap white bread, torn into 1/2 inch pieces by small children
8 ribs of celery, diced
2 onions, diced
3 sticks butter
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 T. sage or poultry seasoning (plus more to taste)

1. Prepare white bread ahead of time so it has time to get a little stale. You can also lightly toast the bread, or you can just skip this step.

2. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well. Add more sage if pale and more broth if dry.

3. Heat half the stuffing in the microwave until warm, then stuff the turkey. Roast turkey.

4. Ahead of time or after the turkey comes out of the oven, bake the rest of the stuffing in a 90-inch pan for 30-40 minutes at 350. Hint: you can bake this stuffing on the grill. Turn the grill on to low, put the stuffing in the pan within a disposable aluminum pan, and bake. Keep an eye on it, though - it can cook very quickly!

5. When the turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing and mix with the baked stuffing. Put it back in the oven until heated through - about 5-10 minutes.

4 comments:

Alison... said...

Stuffing it my favorite and I love the traditional white bread variation, it reminds me of childhood as well...however I have had cornbread stuffing that was quite good and although I have never had the kind made with sausage, I would love to try it sometime... it sounds yummy.

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