It is Thanksgiving Week, day two! This is the most exciting day of this week for TheBetterHalf – stuffing! I talked about this in my post on Stuffing Bread (side note: make this bread immediately for your leftover turkey sandwiches! so good!), but TheBetterHalf LOVES stuffing. I mean he loves all food (we’re a good match), but I think he really gets the most excited about stuffing.
This is actually the first time I’ve made stuffing. When sticks of butter are involved in cooking, I usually prefer to have it in the form of a cookie. But I was excited to tackle this classic Thanksgiving side dish for our Thanksgiving Week series. There are so many variations of stuffing recipes out there, but I decided to go with what I know and love – my mom’s stuffing recipe.
This is a classic bread stuffing – nothing fancy like cornbread or sausage or mushrooms. Just the (delicious) basics – bread, onion, celery, spices, chicken stock and butter. Lots of butter. Never enough butter.
The original recipe came to me like many home cooking recipes do – with little to no measurements and with lots of commentary (ie butter gets a “yum” written next to it – I agree). I tried to get some more exact measurements from my mom, but it is hard to figure out cups and tablespoons when you have been making a recipe for years and can just tell how much you need. For example when I tried to figure out how much bread to use she said, “enough to fill my large salad bowl”. Ok…well, how many onions? “I measure by the handful.” Luckily I’ve seen her salad bowls, know the size of her hands, and have watched her make this a million times. Also my insistent text messages asking for clarification got me some firm answers, like 2 onions and 4 stalks of celery. Perfect! I can work with that!
And I’m so happy that I have her exact recipe to share with you for Thanksgiving Week. This stuffing is delicious! We use a mixture of white and rye bread – the rye adds a great flavor. I used homemade bread because I have an addiction to bread-baking, but my mom says store brought bread works just fine. The stuffing is full of the perfect blend of classic Thanksgiving spices like sage, thyme, and parsley – plus you can add in a pinch of this and a little of that. Like marjoram? Go for it! Celery seed? Why not? The stuffing is slightly crunchy on the sides and top but moist in the middle – the ideal stuffing texture in my opinion. I think it will always taste better when my mom makes it, but I’m glad I can at least attempt to replicate it when I won’t be with her for Thanksgiving.
Mom’s (Jane’s) Stuffing
1.25 loaves of bread, about 1.75 lbs, I like to use ½ rye and ½ white
1 stick butter, plus extra for dotting on top
4 stalks celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh (optional)
½ teaspoon celery seed (you can also add marjoram, poultry seasoning, or whatever flavors you like in your stuffing)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
about 2 ½ cups chicken stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Cut the bread into cubes, and dry it in a 300 degree oven for 30 – 60 minutes. Let it cool completely and then place it in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the veggies, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, salt, and pepper and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add cool chicken stock. This will help cool down the veggie mix so you can add the eggs and not cook them. When it is cool enough, mix in the eggs . Pour it all over the bread and toss together. It should not be too goopy, but it should hold together. Add additional chicken stock if it seems too dry.
I usually cook up a sample in the microwave to taste test. Then adjust seasoning.
Spoon the stuffing mixture into a 13x9inch casserole dish or baking pan and spread it evenly. Dot the top with pats of butter if desired.
Note: you can refrigerate at this point and bake it the next day.
Cover the stuffing with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes longer (for a crunchy top. If you prefer your stuffing to be soft and wet, leave it covered. I prefer crunchy on top).
Some notes from Jane: You can add mushrooms, chestnuts, or anything you like. They should be sautéed with the rest of the veggies for consistent texture. The raw egg is the worry so make sure the stuffing is cooked to proper temperature, at least 165 degrees F.