Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Stuffing

We serve this at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We do not put the stuffing inside the turkey. I guess it is really more of a dressing than a stuffing? But we tend to use them interchangeably.

This is such an old tradition in my family that, until I moved to California after high school, nobody had written it down. It was just passed on from Mom to Daughters to Sisters to Nieces to Granddaughters, etc., via hands-on training during the holidays.

The first version is the huge-ass "feed an army" version. The second is the one I throw together when I'm just making chicken any ol' time.

Note: to dry the white bread, you can either tear it and spread it on a cookie sheet or two and bake it at 250F for 20-30 min, or you can leave it out overnight. Drying it out can be done well ahead of time and, to me, it's not as gross as leaving it out. If you dry it out in the oven ahead of time, let it cool thoroughly then put it into a Ziploc-type bag or other airtight receptacle until you're ready to use it. Same for the cornbread.

Family Size

double batch of cornbread (sweet or savory option, your choice), cubed (or crumbled) and dried
8 slices of white bread, cubed or torn and dried (I usually just use sandwich bread, but whatever)
2 Red Delicious apples, cored and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
3 x 14.5oz cans of chicken broth
1 x 14.5oz can of water (obviously fill it after you've dumped one of the broths)
[now here's where it gets tricky]
salt and pepper to taste
poultry seasoning to taste
sage to taste
["To taste" = until the herbiness somewhat resembles that of Stovetop Stuffing.]

So, take all of the above and mix it in one of those huge, disposable, foil roasting pans (be sure to support the bottom as necessary).

Bake it at 350F, stirring every 20min or so. It should form a yummy crust on the bottom; be sure to scrape that up each time you stir.
Add/stir in more seasoning as needed.
Continue this charade until you're happy with the results or everyone's pissed that it's past time to eat. ;-)

2 more notes:
1. As I said, this has been passed to me verbally, and there's a lot of leeway for personalizing and improvisation.
2. Do yourself a favor and make this a day or two before. It reheats very well in smaller batches.

Lazy, Single Chick Version
(this one tends to be more bread-centric than cornbread-heavy)

1/4 batch of cornbread, crumbled and dried (I do prefer the sweeter version)
1/2 loaf of sandwich bread, torn and dried (the cheap, crumbly WalMart brand that is not fit for sandwiches works well)
1 Red Delicious apple, cored and chopped
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups of water
1/2 Tablespoon rubbed sage
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning

While the bread and cornbread are drying in the oven, put the unwrapped bouillon cubes into a large measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl along with the water, sage, and poultry seasoning. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir the hot herb water until the bouillon cubes are fully dissolved.
Chop yer apple.
Place the apple, dried bread, and dried cornbread into a small roasting pan. Stir the hot herb water so that all the herbs are suspended in the liquid; pour it evenly over the dry bread and apple bits.
Stir the bread mixture with a serving spoon until it is just damp.
Spread the bread mixture evenly in the pan, but do not mash it or smooth it.
Bake it at 350F for 20-30 minutes.
Stir and enjoy. :-)

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