At holiday time our thoughts turn to roast turkey and stuffing. Some like the stuffing more than the turkey, and I’m one of these people. Although I have purchased packaged stuffing when I was short of time, I prefer homemade. There are two types of stuffing, one cooked inside the bird, and the other cooked as a casserole. Many home cooks prepare both.
Recipes for stuffing go back generations. I have a copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Frannie Merritt Farmer, first published in 1896. It contains many stuffing recipes, including corn bread, cracker, giblet, apple and prune, raisin and nut, chestnut, sausage, oyster, and even watercress. All begin with a bread base, some sort of fat, broth or water, and poultry seasoning.
A more recent resource, The Pillsbury Complete Cookbook, published in 2000, has many of these same recipes, with a new one, “Wild Rice and Sausage Dressing,” which Minnesotans like me enjoy. What’s the difference between dressing and stuffing?
According to “Food Myths Debunked: Turkey Stuffing and Turkey Dressing are the Same,” posted on the Fit Day website, the recipes are interchangeable. Stuffing is put into the bird before roasting, and dressing is cooked in a pan. Residents of Northern states in America say “stuffing,” and residents of Southern states say “dressing.”
My husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. Making out the menu took me back to childhood, and the buttery homemade stuffing I loved so much. Day-old bread, or older, works best for stuffing. If you’re ambitious, you can make your own turkey broth, but it’s a labor-intensive process. Commercial broth works just as well.
I’ve read some recipes that use olive oil instead of butter. While this is a healthier option, stuffing doesn’t taste right to me unless it contains butter. And I prefer stuffing without the giblets. Based on classic recipes from the past, my updated recipe has chunks of vegetables and flavorful celery seeds. Warm up the gravy now!
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 cups stale bread
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons celery seeds
4 tablespoons Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (or a bit more) unsalted chicken broth
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.
3. Remove bread crusts with serrated knife. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes or tear into chunks.
4. Transfer bread to large bowl.
5. Melt butter and olive oil in skillet. Add onion and celery and simmer until tender. (Do not let vegetables brown.)
6. Add vegetables to bread and toss.
7. Gently stir in parsley and seasonings.
8. Add broth to stuffing mixture and combine well.
9. Turn stuffing into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Makes about 8 servings.
Note: Never refrigerate a stuffed turkey. The bird should be stuffed just before roasting.