As with everything else in my life, I’m kind a blend between Old School and New Cool. There are some things I do, believe or love that are very traditional, while there are others where I do something new and/or off the wall, or blend the two. When I perform, I wear a full three-piece suit, complete with watch and chain, and a French cuff shirt with cuff links. (More on my music here. And I’m on Facebook here.) But then, on some days, those cuff links might be the Batman logo, or something equally nutty. It’s the same with my cooking. My Colorado sauce is very traditional, but then I’ll use it to make Texannati Chili. Go figure…
For the most part, I prefer to stay pretty traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving. But, then again, I’ll do a Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert. There might be some stuffed jalapenos with the appetizers. I may do something different for potatoes. But when it comes to the turkey and stuffing, Instant Old Guy! LOL
I’ve got to be honest: I don’t know where Mom and Dad got the sage stuffing recipe they used, and I don’t think my current version is exactly what they did. But looking around the web and in my library of cookbooks, I see there are a lot of variations on this theme, and they’re all still called “traditional.”
Now, normally, I wait until the end to offer some notes, but this one is really, really important so I’m doing it first. The bread you use will, in large part, determine your outcome. If you use a traditional white bread, such as Wonder® bread, you’ll have a soggy blob. Now, some folks like soggy and … well … blobby. I don’t, and neither did Mom and Dad. So we used an un-sliced white bread from the bakery. This was somewhat more dense than basic bread, and it can bet cut into larger pieces. If you can’t get that, a good French or Italian bread works well. When you shop for your ingredients, please do yourself a favor and get decent bread. And if you don’t, it’s on you, OK?
So… time for a trip down memory lane. Let’s go have some fun.
10 cups dried bread cubes
1 cup melted butter
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups minced celery ribs, with leaves
1 cup minced fresh parsley
6 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
Before you start, get everything together, chopped, minced and measured. Now you’re ready to cook.
Preheat oven to 200°. Cut bread into 1″ cubes. Place on baking sheets in single layer and bake until dried and toasty, but barely brown. Remove from oven and set aside in a very large bowl to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 350°.
Remove giblets from turkey and rinse under running water. Chop them up in a fine mince.
Add giblets to pan and saute for about two minutes.
Add the rest of the butter. As soon as it’s melted add the onions and celery. Saute until translucent and tender, but not browned.
At the very end, season with salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be to skimpy, you’ve got a LOT of bread to cover. Remove from heat and set aside for a minute.
Add parsley, sage and thyme to bread cubes and toss to distribute.
Add onion, celery and giblets (with butter) to bread cubes and toss to coat. Make sure you start tossing the bread as soon as you put all this stuff in there. That way, everything gets really happy.
Beat eggs to a pulp using a whisk, then add to bread cubes, tossing to coat. Again, get started right away. In fact, put just half the eggs in to start. Toss to combine, then add the rest of the eggs and toss again. It’s really important to distribute the eggs evenly.
Pour bread cubes into a greased baking dish. Don’t mash the top flat. It looks a lot cooler when it looks sort of lumpy. Sure, press it down so you don’t have any big air pockets, but don’t be a bully about it. Real Men are never bullies.
Slowly – and I do mean slowly – pour up to two cups chicken broth over the top. Don’t worry, it will drizzle down to coat everything. Keep an eye on the bottom of the dish as you do this. When you see the broth start to pool in the bottom, you’re done.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the top is browned.
Serve immediately or, if you’re waiting on the turkey. set it aside after 45 minutes, and put it back in the oven about fifteen to twenty minutes before you will serve.
Don’t forget what I said about the bread. In fact, go back to the top and read it again.
Some people have a really hard time dealing with giblets. Me, too, but I find that adding them really does add to the taste. But if you can’t stand to deal with organs, you can just throw that disgusting little bag out. But don’t get mad if someone calls you a wimp.
Astute readers may have noticed that the stuffing int he first picture also has some mushrooms in it. That’s a great addition, and you can still call it traditional. Just add them in with the giblets. When done, remove from pan with slotted spoon and set aside adding them back in at the very end.
You can make this a day ahead of schedule if you like. Just hold off on adding the broth until just before you bake it.
Just so you know, the law allows you to make this any day of the year. It’s true. I checked. So feel free to make this with a nice roasted chicken some other time. And now matter when you do it,
Play with your food!
I have more Side Dish Recipes here.
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