I have always called it stuffing. Probably because we ate a lot of Stovetop Stuffing when I was younger. During my college years, I’d buy it in cannisters and make 1-2 servings at time. Or, I admit, eat the dry product right from the can. I still eat it on occasion but I’m more likely to buy plain breadcrumbs and season them up so I can control the salt levels. Ditto for Rice-a-Roni and other packaged starches.
During college, I ate a lot of things like ramen noodles. It was super cheap, right? After being trapped in my apartment with no power for 3 days following an ice storm, I couldn’t look at ramen for a long time. Fortunately, during the outage, I was able to use my old-fashioned (i.e. non-electric start) gas stove to eat. And ramen plus assorted sauces, spices and frozen vegetables were my sustenance for those 3 days.
Stuffing is one of the requirements at Thanksgiving. As I mentioned previously, I call it stuffing whether its in the bird or out. I visualize dressing as this mushy bread-like mash that we would have at Grandma-in-Iowa’s house over the holidays. Ironically, that stuff usually was cooked inside the turkey and should have been called stuffing.
I’m making dinner on Thursday. It will be served about 6pm. That’s dinner time. In Iowa, dinner was the big meal eaten at about 1pm. And then supper came later and was not so heavy (usually). While I do occasionally refer to dinner as supper and we used to jokingly call a late lunch “lupper” or “linner”, I just don’t think of the post-work meal as anything but dinner. The regional nomenclatures fascinate me.
Although I make stuffing periodically, I don’t really have a recipe for it. Bread crumbs, onions and celery, maybe some nuts and/or dried fruit plus seasonings like thyme and sage. Moisten with broth and butter, bake and voila.
Fortunately for all of you, my good friend Gwyneth* has come up with a mighty tasty-sounding stuffing/dressing recipe. For more Thanksgiving recipe suggestions, check out the menus HERE
Classic Bread Stuffing
Ingredients15 cups of 1/2˝ bread cubes (I usually have challah, wholegrain and ciabatta in my bread bin)
1/4 cup butter + 1 tablespoon cut into small pieces
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 very large onion, very finely diced (roughly 2 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, very finely diced (roughly 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
2 generous tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups high-quality vegetable stock, divided
- Preheat the oven to 300º F. Spread the bread cubes out on two cookie sheets and bake for about ten minutes or until a bit dried out, not browned.
- Meanwhile, heat the 1/4 cup of butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, celery, fennel and celery seeds, rosemary, salt and pepper and sweat the mixture for 20 minutes, keeping the heat low enough so that the vegetables don’t color – you just want them to get soft and sweet. Turn off the heat, add the parsley and let the mixture cool for about ten minutes in the pan. Add the bread cubes and 2 cups of stock; stir to evenly distribute. Let the mixture sit for about an hour to let the flavors really get into everything (now’s a good time to work on your other Thanksgiving dishes!).
- Reserve two cups of the stuffing for the turkey if desired.
- Set the oven to 350º F. Put the stuffing into an ovenproof baking dish (you could even leave it in your sauté pan if it doesn’t have plastic handles – one less thing to wash!). Pour over the remaining stock and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
*Okay okay, Gwyneth isn’t actually my friend although I’m sure we’d have fun together in the kitchen. She’s actually Gwyneth Paltrow, the actor and writer of a weekly newsletter called Goop.