Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Last year, my parents came out for Thanksgiving. I decided to try Martha's classic stuffing recipe, and it was spectacular. I got the recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.
I put my (buttermilk) bread out two days ahead of Thanksgiving on sheet pans to let it get "stale." I halved the celery and added diced carrots to the mix, and mixed everything up one day ahead. I only added half the amount of cherries, and it was just perfect. I stored it, unbaked, in the covered casserole dishes in the refrigerator, until Thanksgiving day. Then, I removed the dishes from the refrigerator to allow the stuffing (which I suppose was technically dressing because I didn't actually stuff it in the turkey!) to come to room temperature, at least an hour or so before baking. It turned out great, the vegetables were perfect, and the fresh flat-leaf parsley is a MUST. I bake my dressing/stuffing at 350-375 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Everyone loved this stuffing/dressing. The cherries added just a hint of sweetness, the pecans gave it a hint of crunch, the vegetables were not mushy. The texture of this stuffing is wonderful, the colors are beautiful, and the flavor is...perfect. It really is my favorite. I am going to make it more than once a year! One of our guests said, "This is the best stuffing I have ever had!"
So, the schedule for this dish if you want to make it ahead:
Tuesday: cube bread and leave out on trays (cover with a dish towel overnight) to get "stale"
Wednesday: chop everything and mix together; store in covered casserole dishes in the refrigerator
Thursday: stuff in turkey and/or remove from refrigerator to allow to come to room temperature and bake, uncovered.
Try it, you won't be disappointed! This is probably the stuffing or dressing recipe for which you've been searching!
I should probably say, I haven't tried making this ahead and then using it to stuff a turkey. Although I can't imagine why it wouldn't work. So if you do try it that way, please let me know. And I'll have my fingers crossed for you! This does work very well as a make ahead dish if baked separately. That much I know.
Makes 12 cups
Stale bread gives this stuffing texture. If you like a very moist, soft stuffing, use a sturdy, chewy loaf.
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 onions (2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch dice
16 celery stalks, strings removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice (or roughly half that amount and add an equal amount of carrots in the same 1/4-inch dice)
10 large fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons crushed dried sage
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock, or low-sodium canned chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 loaves stale white bread (about 36 slices), crusts on, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 2 bunches)
2 cups pecans, toasted, chopped, optional
2 cups dried cherries, optional (I used 1 cup, and it was the perfect amount)
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions, celery and carrots, and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sage, stir to combine, and cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock, and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.
2. Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the bread, salt, pepper, parsley, pecans and cherries, if using, and the remaining 1 quart plus 1 1/2 cups stock; mix to combine. Use to stuff turkey immediately.
Or bake, uncovered, at 350-375 degrees F for about 45 minutes, until top is golden and dressing is heated through. I am baking mine at 350 degrees F this year, because that is the temperature I need to heat my mashed potatoes.