Creating Your Own Stuffing
February 12th, 2013 posted by Amy Schamburek
Years after her passing, the wonderful taste of Grandma’s stuffing is still quite vivid. It’s the same recipe that has been handed down for generations. I still remember the first Thanksgiving at my soon to be in-laws home — oh how I missed my Grandma’s stuffing. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy my Mother-In-Law’s recipe as well. Here are some tips to help you create your own wonderful stuffing or even improve upon Grandma’s recipes!
The Bread Determines The Taste
The purpose of stuffing is to engulf the delicious flavors of the turkey, released during baking.
- Italian bread is a wonderful choice for stuffing.
- Cornbread will add a nutty southern taste to the stuffing.
- Sourdough will be more chewy and tangy than plain bread.
- Avoid packaged croutons since they tend to taste, well… packaged!
- Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.
- Dry on a baking sheet at 275 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
- Cut up into bit size pieces.
- Vegetables are a very important ingredient for seasoning and creating the perfect stuffing. Be careful not to over cook the vegetables, as they will continue to bake during the roasting period. Sauté celery, shallots, garlic, onion slowly in butter, oil or even bacon fat. Cook until they are slightly soft to the touch.
- Bring out the aromatic flavor of vegetables by sweating them in a little fat.
- Covering them with foil or a lid as they cook traps moisture and keeps them from browning.
- Popular herbs & spices such as sage, thyme, and parsley are a great seasoning for your stuffing. You can purchase these in your local grocery store. Using fresh herbs is great, just be to adjust the recipe accordingly by using more than the dry seasonings for equal flavor.
A Little Liquid Goes Along Way
The perfect stuffing should just hold together. It will absorb more juices as it cooks inside the turkey.
Do Not Over Stuff The Bird
Stuff your turkey only at the last minute before roasting. If you need to save time you can prepare the dry ingredients and perishable ingredients separately the day before, then combine them just prior to roasting time. Stuff the body and neck cavities of the turkey loosely. Stuffing expands as it cooks. This will also shorten cooking time. As a rule of thumb, allow about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Extra stuffing can be baked separately. Some prefer to close the openings of the body and neck cavities with string or skewers to hold the stuffing inside. Usually, this is not necessary, and is optional. Make sure your stuffing reaches a teperature of 160 degrees F to insure proper cooking. To gauge how much stuffing you will need to feed your guests, use as a rule of thumb, 3/4 to 1 cup of stuffing per person.
Old Fashion Stuffing
3-4 loaves of white bread (or 5 if you like leftovers) water chicken broth turkey giblets 2 bunches of celery 1 or 2 onions 2 tbsp butter 1/2 tsp. sage oysters (optional) mushrooms (option) The night before, break the bread into small pieces (about 1 inch squares) into 2 huge bowls or pots. Let the bread sit overnight to dry out. The next day, after you remove the turkey’s giblets, boil the giblets in water in 2/3 qt. sauce pan until cooked (about 20/30 minutes). Remove giblets for later use or discard. Set giblet cooking water aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop onion and celery and place into food processor until minced. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in large saucepan. Sauté onion and celery until heated through. Do not brown! (Sauté mushrooms also at this time if using them). Depending on how much stuffing you want and how much celery and onion you’ve chopped, you may have to sauté the onion and celery in two parts. Once cooked, pour the onion/celery mixture directly over the dried out bread. Pour 1/2 tsp. sage over bread/onion/celery mixture. Using the reserved giblet cooking water, pour slowly over bread. The bread will shrink as you do this. Be careful not to pour too much water in. Mix thoroughly and smell/taste for perfect stuffing. If you need more liquid, open a can of chicken broth and pour over bread. If you need more spice, add more sage. If you are using oysters, add them now. Once stuffing is of a consistency that it will stick together and does not look too dry, do not add more liquid. Either stuff in turkey to be baked in oven, or put in 9 x 13 pan. If using oysters, it is recommended that you bake the stuffing in a pan so as to ensure the oysters will be cooked through. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You want the stuffing to have a nice brown crust on top.