I hesitate to even write this recipe, it borders on heresy. I mean truthfully, every family already has the best stuffing recipe. These are family traditions after all and there ain't no messin' round with a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. In my family, there is one aunt who is in charge of making the stuffing and Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without it. I still remember the time I wanted to vamp up the old family favorite. I was fresh outta culinary school and brought my own version to the gathering. It was new, it was flavorful, it was moist and only one person ate it - me.
Now, I leave Thanksgiving alone and I make stuffing as a side for many meals throughout the year. It is just so darn delicious, why relegate to only one day? So, for those who are cooking without their family for the first time or just want a rockin' side dish, here it is - basic stuffing and a few of my favorite flavor combinations.
1 hour, 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put cubed bread in a large bowl; set aside.
Brown meat in a large saute pan until cooked through. Remove meat and add to the bowl with the reserved bread leaving behind the fat and browned bits in the bottom of the pan. If you are omitting the meat, skip this step and put 2 T. butter or oil in a saute pan.
Add the celery and onion and cook until soft. Add aromatics and garlic; cook 1 minute more. Pour the vegetable mixture over bread. Add the stock to the bread, mix well, taste and add salt and pepper. If the mixture looks dry, add more liquid.
Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is hot throughout, about 45 minutes.
- Sausage, Sage and Apple: Add 1 c. diced apples to the vegetable mixture.
- Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese: Add 1 c. diced pears to the vegetable mixture, add 3/4 c. chopped walnuts to the bread cubes and add 1 c. crumbled blue cheese (more or less to taste) when you add the salt and pepper.
- Chorizo, Corn and Red Pepper: Use chorizo as the meat, add 1/2 c. each corn and diced red pepper to vegetable mixture and change the herbs and spices to things like cumin and cilantro.
- Giblet and Caramelized onion: Cook off the turkey giblets, dice and add to the cubed bread. You can use this cooking liquid as your stock as well. Caramelizing onions takes a little time and patience, but you will be rewarded.
Warning! This is not a paint by numbers recipe for you to follow exactly. I am gonna ask you to use your judgement and taste buds as a guide. Have fun and make something memorable.