Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing


Stuffing (or dressing, whichever) is a near requirement at my table on Thanksgiving. You just have to have something to sop up that extra gravy with.

My problem with stuffing is that it gets SO COMPLICATED sometimes. I don't like to stuff my stuffing with cranberries or sausage or nuts or whatever. I just like it to be simple and classic. This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is just that. All the flavors I love in a better-than-the-box version you can be proud to make and serve.

Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing
(from here)

1 1/2 pounds white sandwich bread (about 15 slices), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
2 celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1 1/2 cups turkey stock (divided) (can sub chicken broth)
2 large eggs

==

Begin by cutting and drying the bread. You can do this on the counter overnight, but the bread isn't in fact as dry as it could be. There is still a lot of moisture in stale bread. The fastest and best way is to bake it in a low oven.

I like to use good white bread for this vs Wonder Bread or something. I feel the good stuff has better body and flavor but use what you have.

I like to use this bread or Milton's if I can find it.

Preheat your oven to 250F.

Weigh out your bread.


Dice into 1/2 inch cubes. I try to do a few slices at a time to speed things up. A really sharp knife makes short work of it.


Spread out on to 2 sheet pans.

You want even layers, not bunched up.



Bake at 250F for about 45 minutes.

I tossed the bread every 10 minutes or so to get even browning.

When the bread is nice and dry pour it into a big bowl to cool.



==

While the bread dries you can make the vegetables.

Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick pan.


Chop an onion and 2 ribs of celery finely.


Add to the pan.

Onion

Celery
Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to the veggies and stir to combine.

You're going to want to sauté until they are soft, 7-10 minutes over medium heat.


While the veggies are going, prep the herbs.

Grab a small handful of each thyme, marjoram, and sage.


Mince finely.


Add to your veggies and cook for 1 minutes until fragrant.


Done!


Add to the bread.


Measure out a cup of your homemade turkey stock (or chicken broth).


Add to the bread/veggies.


Mix well to combine.


Make sure everything is evenly coated.


Measure out 1/2 cup of stock.


Add 2 eggs.


Beat well.


Add to the bread/veggie mix.


Mix well again.


Add to a buttered 9x13 baking dish.


Distribute evenly. 


==

Baking time will vary here.

If you're doing this for Thanksgiving just toss it in with the Turkey near the end of cooking.

I baked mine at 275 for about 40 minutes, covered with foil, then baked it at 400 for about 5 minutes to re-heat it right before dinner, uncovered.

If you're doing this straight, with no worry about Thanksgiving, the recipe says to bake at 400F for 15 minutes, uncovered - ensuring the internal temp hits 165.


My Thanksgiving baking arrangement.
==

Regardless of how you bake the stuffing, it'll turn out great if you aim at 165. I did this one year and it turned out pretty dry because I overcooked it. It was still pretty good though. Get a thermometer and check often.

==

Overall this stuffing is the best of the "boxed" version while being a real cut above. Higher quality ingredients and better technique yield superior results here.

The herbs are perfect to match your Thanksgiving table and the stuffing is moist and a bit crispy and soaks up the gravy ever so well.

Try this stuffing! You won't be disappointed!


Enjoy!

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