Thanksgiving Stuffing

I love Thanksgiving.  It is one of my all time favorite American holidays.  I love the fact that the majority of Americans are sitting down among their friends and family and eating turkey, stuffing and pie.  Also, there are soup kitchens that make sure that every American gets a bite of that annual dinner. 

This year, we are getting together with 3 different families, my sister and another friend.  I’m really looking forward to it.   Everyone has their "must haves" on Thanksgiving.  God forbid you don’t have your annual stuffing or that pumpkin pie.  We have our traditions too but the one that has stuck with as a long as I can remember is the stuffing.  I have to have the stuffing we always make every year.  After all, who eats stuffing during the year?  This is a one time, once a year treat. 

I am going to share this recipe since it is so basic and you could literally add anything you wanted to this recipe.

2 sticks of butter, 8 onions chopped, 2 heads of celery sliced into small pieces, 2 loaves of challah sliced and 2 loaves of Arnold’s white bread, one dozen eggs, 5 cups or possibly more of warmed chicken broth.

Melt the sticks of butter in a huge frying pan  Add the onions and celery until soft not browned.  Toast all the bread.  I do it in the broiler, quickly and then cut into small squares.  Put the toast in a large large bowl, pour the onion/celery mixture over the top and mix.  Now, take eggs that have been beaten loosely and pour in.  Pour in a few at a time until the mixture starts to get soft.  Pour in some chicken broth and get the mixture softer.  You can play around here between the chicken broth and the eggs.  The mixture should be thick and mushy.  Make sure it isn’t too soft.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. 

You really can’t beat this stuffing.  You could add oysters, dried fruit, mushrooms or anything that you want to this recipe.  It’s basic, easy and delicious. 

I stuff the turkey with this recipe and then put the remaining in a souffle dish to cook.  You can’t go wrong with too much stuffing b/c there is nothing like the leftovers with turkey and cranberry the next day.

Comments (Archived):

  1. jackson

    I’m taking this with me to DC/Bethesda, I’m cooking the feast for D. and Peg and Bob, thanks, I’m adding Keilbasa and cutting the portion in half.

  2. Karen E

    I come from a seriously 50s oriented goy family so the prescribed recipe is straight-up Pepperidge Farm stuffing according to the directions. However! I am sneaking in a leftover French ‘tradition’ loaf and mixing the whole thing according to your recipe. So subversive!

  3. jcwinnie

    Well, if you are a Southern goy, then you would add 1 cup finely chopped pecans. 😉

  4. John Ballard

    As a Southern goy, I can share with you a few ideas about dressing. I am in a retirement job now, but my career was spent as manager in a southeren cafeteria chain. My wife is from Ohio, I grew up in Kentucky, we both love to eat in New York, so there is a wide canvas for us to use when we eat or cook.

    “Dressing” or “stuffing” originated with economy-minded homemakers who didn’t want to waste food. They are by-products of the kitchen that also serve to encourage diners to enjoy the flavors of the expensive main dish and at the same time fill their appetites with a filling side dish. The price of the menu derives mainly from the meat, so anything that extends the entree will serve to make the meal less costly.

    To that end, some of the best dressing is made with “leftovers.” I know that is a bad word in many places, but I can assure you that if you save leftover yeast bread, cornbread, a few biscuits, unused toast – rather than tossing it out – you will have the beginnings of teriffic dressing. As long as the bread is merely stale, not molded, it works fine. The fridge is a good place to collect it. One of those handy zip-lock plastic bags works well.

    Next, the good flavors come from the drippings of roasted meat. Poultry is most popular, but other,more hearty drippings are not out of the question. The key to success is to put a bit of water into the bottom of the roaster so that every smudge of reduced drippings is loosened and included in the cooking stock, which should not be too watery. After straining out any big pieces of onion, celery, carrots, an whatever was cooked along with the meat, a clean stock should be set aside to cool and separate. That layer of fat that comes to the top can be carefully removed and used to make a roux when it is time to thicken the gravy. The flavors of product fat are richer than butter or oil.

    (Hint: if you really want to insure that all the fat is out of what you are making, pour the cooled stock through crushed ice. The ice will cause the fat to get hard and fat-free stock will run through the strainer.)

    From here the creative cook is on her own. There is no correct way to do dressing. Some add cream of chicken soup from a can. Diced onions and celery seem to be universal. And for my taste, a healthy pile of sage is essential, added to the sauteed vegetables as it is mixed lightly into the bread mixture.

    We never handled or stirred dressing more than necessary to mix it. Too much stirring breaks up the breads and makes the recipe hard and dry when it is cooked. When the already formed structure of breads is present, the stock can seep into the body of the dressing without any stirring at all. Patience is important here to let the ingredients soak together naturally.

    “Cooking” is really just drying out the recipe and helping it form a good top crust. All the individual ingredients are already cooked, so I always tasted the raw dressing before cooking to make sure it was salty enough and had a good flavor. Some people like their dressing dry, others moist. It’s a matter of taste.

    In the end, a good dressing is one of the best presentations of any kitchen. One year my chef purchased turkey tails in bulk. They were only thirty-five cents a pound. After using them to make a rich stock, we picked off the fat and meat, ground it through a 1/8 inch plate, and mixed it into the dressing. That year customers were coming back until the week after Thanksgiving asking if we had any more of that dressing. It was memorable. [Your software won’t make paragraphs. Too bad]