There it is - a whole tray of the evil white stuff ... bread! It may be evil and it may be ordinarily off-limits, but there's no denying that plain 'ole white bread makes for some delicious stuffing!
Normally, the bread stuffing is left to the ministrations of Mama Diva, while I focus on the pork stuffing. This year, things are a little bit different. Mama and Papa Diva will be dining in CT with bro and his wife ... so it looks like the bread stuffing is up to me. And, I'm going to be honest, I cheated a little bit too. I mixed the bread, veggies and seasonings with some pre-packaged stuffing cubes. You can see the package in the background of that photo. So sue me, a Diva's got to take a little help where she can get it now and then.
Herbed Bread Stuffing / Dressing:
- two 16 ounce loaves of plain white bread, or stuffing bread, unsliced
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 large onions, peeled and diced
- 3 large shallots, peeled and diced
- 6 large stalks of celery, diced
- 2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed well and sliced thin
- some Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- poultry seasoning
- celery salt
- 4 cups of packaged, seasoned stuffing cubes, such as Pepperidge Farm
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- additional chicken broth for baking dressing
Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F.
Slice the bread into thick slices, then tear the slices into roughly 1 inch pieces. Scatter the torn bread on a large, walled cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes, turning once or twice, until the bread begins to dry. Do not brown or toast the bread, you just want to dry it out a bit. Remove from oven and reserve.
Melt the butter in a very large stock pot and to it add the onions, shallots, celery and leeks. Season with a bit of Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, a generous sprinkle of poultry seasoning and celery salt, stirring well to combine. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring as needed, until translucent and tender but not yet browned, about 8 to 10 minutes or so. Add the seasoned bread cubes to the pan and stir well. Add the white bread and stir to combine, adding a cup of chicken broth to the pan to moisten. Continue stirring and adding a bit more chicken broth until the stuffing holds together and your desired consistency is achieved.
Remove from heat and add the chopped sage, thyme and parsley, stirring well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, or whatever you wish, if necessary. (At this point, the stuffing can be cooled, placed in a suitable container or zip lock bag, and frozen until needed. )
To Serve as Dressing: butter a 9 x 13 inch oven safe baking dish and transfer the stuffing mixture to the prepared baking dish, smoothing it out to form an even layer. Pour some additional chicken broth over the mixture to keep it moist, cover with foil and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 t0 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and heated throughout. Serve and enjoy!
As written, this recipe will serve 12 to 15.
Notes: While I do know that stuffing cooked outside the bird is called dressing, in my family its called stuffing regardless! If desired, you can certainly use this mixture to actually stuff your bird, and the excess can be baked off on the side as directed above.
I do not measure the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning or celery salt, nor do I measure the fresh herbs. I just keep adding stuff until it tastes right to me. Do as you see fit. If you're a big fan of thyme or sage, by all means add more. Generally, I prefer to use the fresh herbs, though there's no reason you can't use dried if that's your preference. Hey, its your holiday, live it up!
As for that packaged stuffing mix ... what can I tell you? Tough times call for tough measures! Besides, its not all that bad ... the mix did contain both whole wheat and white bread cubes, so its practically a health food. ~wink~
I'll be firmly ensconced in my kitchen for the next few days and likely out of action here on the blog. I'll be back with a full Thanksgiving round up next week and, hopefully, we can return to normal here for a short while - or at least until the Christmas madness kicks in.
So, are you taking any culinary short-cuts this week? 'Fess up in the comments ... I hate to cheat alone!