Is it stuffing? Or dressing?
As kids we were told if it’s Sunday or a holiday it’s dressing, otherwise any other day it’s just stuffing. That was my parents’ rule. I made this on a Wednesday because that was the day everyone could be here for Thanksgiving. So it’s stuffing.
I’ve changed the way I make this over the years and finally I think I have it just the way I like it. Sometimes it just tastes better than other times and I have no idea why. My mother makes her stuffing a little differently than my sister. I’m somewhere in between their versions. I prefer the traditional type with bread and herbs and not much else. I cook mine in the bird, some people don’t. I’ve tried making extra in a crock pot or stove top, but it’s never any good. My rule is you can never have too much stuffing. Unfortunately there never seems to be enough room in a turkey or chicken for the amount you want. Fortunately for us, Mr. H’s kids don’t eat stuffing! So there was enough for us and leftovers.
I toss stale bread in the freezer so I always have some on hand when I need it. I thaw it and cut it into cubes, then toast them in the oven until they are browned and dry. This can be done the day before which is helpful when you have other things to do on the big day. You need about 1 piece of bread per person. I use all kinds of bread – white, brown, sourdough, baguette, buns….it doesn’t seem to matter too much.
If you have a 10 lb turkey you probably can’t get more than 6 cups of stuffing in it. Give or take. This time I had a 12-13 lb turkey and I used 8 cups of bread cubes. I actually peeled back the skin on each side of the opening and stuffed some in there too. You can also stuff the neck but when you start turning your bird over, the stuffing falls out the other end. I find it counter productive. And frustrating.
Now chop the onion, celery and red pepper and sauté in butter. It’s a lot but you need to add moisture to the bread. Once they are soft add salt and pepper, table cream or milk, dried chicken stock and liquid chicken stock. Let simmer for a few minutes then add dried thyme and sage. Stir and pour over the dried bread cubes. Chop fresh parsley, sage and thyme and add to the stuffing mixture. I like the combination of dried and fresh herbs.
Stir until well blended and bread has soaked up the liquid. You may need a bit more stock, you want the bread to absorb the liquid and be soft but not mushy.
It’s important to cool the stuffing before you put it in the bird. And don’t stuff it until you are ready to cook. You can pack lots of stuffing in there, just not too tightly. Somewhere between loosely packed and jam it all in. I once put way too much stuffing in a turkey, literally forced it in, then added more. The result? Mostly uncooked stuffing.
Try to get the legs as close together and skin pulled down over the stuffing. If you have some extra skin from the neck area, you can cut it off and place it over the opening. It helps keep the stuffing moist. And nothing like a little butter smeared over the bird too!
I was not allowed in the kitchen when I was a kid while my dad was carving the turkey. Because………I would eat all the crispy skin.
Remove the stuffing soon after taking the turkey out of the oven and cover to keep warm until serving.
Here’s the recipe:
Stuffing Ingredients 6-8 C dried cubed bread 2-3 Tbsp butter 1/2 medium onion 2 stalks celery 1/2 red pepper 1/4 C table cream (18%) or milk 1 1/2 C chicken stock 1 Tbsp dried chicken broth mix or 1 package bouillon 1/4 tsp ground thyme 1 tsp ground sage fresh chopped parsley, approx. 1 Tbsp fresh chopped sage, approx. 8-10 leaves fresh thyme, approx. 6-8 sprigs Method Cube and toast stale bread until lightly browned and dry. Finely chop onion, celery and pepper and sauté in butter until soft. Add cream or milk and dried chicken broth mix. Simmer for a few minutes, then add liquid stock, salt and pepper and dried thyme and sage. Stir and pour over dried bread cubes. Add freshly chopped parsley, sage and thyme. Stir until well blended. Add more stock if necessary to have moist and soft texture. Allow to cool, then stuff turkey or chicken right before cooking. Remove from bird soon after cooking.