Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Make Real Homemade Stuffing and Throw Away the Stove-Top

My Dear Loves,

It came to my attention recently that some of you might still be reaching for that box of Stove-Top during this glorious time of year. This breaks my heart. Do you know what's in boxed stuffings? Weird stuff, that's what. It's time to make your own stuffing. You can make homemade stuffing! It is so easy! And you can control what's in your stuffing, making it to your taste and even healthy (or not healthy, I'm not your mom.)

The Prep:

1 large paper bag
Leftover bread

I live in the high desert so my prep might be different than yours. When I was a kid, my dad would start collecting bread about three weeks before Thanksgiving. He'd chop up the bread heels we left in the bags, he chopped up stale slices of French bread, whatever we had leftover, and put them all in a large paper bag. He'd shake it once a day or so. In these parts, the bread dries out and does not mold. If you live in a humid place, chop up your breads and put them in a bag in the freezer.

In this bag I have some whole wheat bread, some white sandwich bread, some French bread. What kind of bread should you get? Whatever is leftover, day-old, and cheap. Most stores have day-old bread on a sad little rack to the side of the fresh stuff. If you want it to be healthy, choose whole grain breads. Rye bread? Why not? Croissants? Oui! You can even throw in some leftover cornbread, who's going to tell you no? Not me, I'm an enabler.

The Main Ingredients:

12 cups of stale bread cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup of finely chopped celery
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
5 sage leaves, chopped
1 small sprig rosemary, chopped
5 Tbl butter (OR 2 Tbl olive oil)
Kosher salt
22 ounces of chicken broth (2 14.5 ounce cans) low sodium is best, but you can use whatever
Buttered 9"x13" pan

Why is there an apple in that picture?

Good question!

That's because stuffing is about what you like. Add some chopped apple and a little sweet to your stuffing? Why not? Use dried herbs if you don't have fresh! Hate rosemary? Try smoked paprika, or any other spice/herb! Leave out the red pepper? OK! Like adding delicious, saturated fat calories because you don't have enough of that in your diet? Render bacon or pancetta and toss in the goodness. Add fennel bulb, roasted chestnuts, pecans, golden raisins, or mushrooms? Absolutely! Carrots? Don't be insane, that's gross. Carrots in stuffing...I've heard everything.

Whatever you decide to add, chop it up small because the bread should be the star.

Trying to be healthy? Use the two tablespoons of olive oil instead of the butter.

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt. Saute for five minutes on medium-low heat. You don't want to brown the onions, just soften them.

Add the celery, bell pepper, sage, rosemary, and sprinkle with salt, maybe even some black pepper. Saute over medium heat for two or three minutes until it smells amazing and the veggies are starting to soften. If you're the type of cook who adds half a cup of white wine to your stuffing, now's the time, and reduce it to cook out the alcohol. No wine in mine today.

Put the bread cubes into a large bowl (large enough to hold 12 cups.) Pour the veggies over the bread and toss. Add the chicken stock. You can use homemade, of course. Your bread might need another 1/2 cup or so of chicken stock. Taste your bread and veggies. Does it taste good? The chicken stock will soak the bread and evaporate, so don't put too much salt.

Toss the bread and the stock, and pour into a 9"x13" pan that's been brushed with melted butter. How? I put a tablespoon of butter into the pan, stick it in the oven for a minute until it melts, and then brush it around the pan. Want healthier? Spray with a little cooking spray. Actually going to use it to stuff your bird? Go on with your bad self! (It won't all fit, you'll need to split half into a small oven-proof dish to bake.)

Look at that! Your stuffing is ready to hit the 350 degree oven for about an hour. About? Yes, about. I don't know how hot your oven really is and I don't want you to burn your stuffing. Start checking the stuffing at 45 minutes. Mine took a full hour. Maybe because I took a nap and couldn't wake up in time to check at 45 minutes.

Ooooooh! Look! It's golden brown and moves slightly when you take it out of the oven!

Don't try to eat it right away, let it sit at least 15 minutes before you start spooning it out.

Check you out, you made stuffing!


soybeanlover said...

Thank you!! I've been a believer for years, if only I could convince my husband to stop buying Stove Top(it's of the devil!).

By the way, shiitake mushrooms taste awesome in stuffing too.

Emmie said...

Going to try this with gluten free bread cubes. Will report back.

vanessa said...

you are the very very bestest. I am been craving stuffing in a very weird way and am now going to go make this at 7am. Yes I am.

Azúcar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Azúcar said...

I don't think that's weird, Vanessa, I think stuffing is even better than mashed potatoes.

And if you're in a hurry? Take your fresh bread cubes and spread them on a baking sheet. Oven them at 250, stirring them every once in a while until they dry out. This recipe easily halves or doubles.

NatTheFatRat said...

you know, i know this is how you're supposed to do stuffing? and maybe this makes me the lamest? but in my family, it's from the box or you don't even bother. i bet you even make your own damn cranberry sauce, don't you. (if mine doesn't have can ridges on the side it's a NO GO, DON'T EVEN START.)

but thank you for at least not putting in raisins or any garbage like that in your fancy schmancy homemade stuffing.

(bell peppers? i'll let it slide.)

yours in thanksgivingness, et cetera.

NatTheFatRat said...

oh, you said you COULD use raisins. you're gross carina. ;)

Bryn said...

I can handle Stove Top during the year, but NOT FOR THANKSGIVING! My mother in-law was fine with Stove-top for Thanksgiving, but that just sounds sacrilegious to me! So I quickly volunteered to make the stuffing and have been making it ever since. But I must admit I have used bagged dried bread cubes. Yes I'll meet you out back for my flogging. But this year I have been wanting to make my own bread cubes and so your post was perfect timing because your post made me believe I can totally do this! I know it is not rocket science but a first is usually approached with some apprehension. Anyways, thanks so much!

Lindsey Johnson said...

Someday I'm going to make a big pan of my cornbread stuffing for you. It does not in any way replace traditional stuffing, it compliments it. A plate of stuffing with gravy on top is my idea of leftovers.

FoxyJ said...

I grew up with a mom that made homemade stuffing and so I think Stove Top is nasty. I have in the past bought Trader Joe's stuffing mix because it does taste pretty good, especially when you add some extra celery, onions, and dried cranberries to it.

We aren't really big bread eaters around here so I actually just bought a bag of those bread cubes from the bakery at Sunflower Market today. Thanks for the reminder about how to make stuffing--I couldn't remember and this year I'm making all the food because I'm hosting and my mom can't get here until 11 on Wednesday night to help. I also make my own cranberry sauce, because I am insane.

amyrose said...

Looks great, but oops - I think we do put carrots in our stuffing. My husband makes it every year, it is his favorite part... and I'm pretty sure he adds carrots. I had no idea they were not allowed in...

Rynell said...

We make homemade stuffing with sausage, celery, onion, sage and olives in it. Yum.

Lindsey Johnson said...

BTW--I'm totally impressed that you took how-to photos of this.

Mrs. Organic said...

My grandma took her stuffing recipe to the grave. I'm going to try this and see if I can get close. I'm pretty sure I remember sausage in hers (suggestions?)

Azúcar said...

If she was American, she probably used a regular pork country sausage. Depending on how much sausage you remember (lots? A little?) I'd use 1/2-1 lb. Cook the sausage, breaking into small pieces, reserving the drippings. Set sausage aside, cook the veggies in the drippings (add a Tbl of butter.) Toss bread, sausage, veggies together, and then the stock. Bake.

Mrs. Organic said...

Thank you! I'll try it out and report.

Veeda said...

I love that you are posting more about food on your blog. I respect your taste buds. Down with Stove-Top!

Marianne & Clayton said...

Stuffing qualifies as one of the two food groups I can eat right now, so this post is very welcome to me. Happy carbs.

We toast our bread and add celery, onions and corn. I like it in the bird (stuffing), but often cook it along side for people who are squeamish (dressing). If you have to cook it outside I recommend Knorr's Mexican chicken bouillon. Or Caldo con sabor de pollo for all you smart kids. However it has the dreaded msg, so... put it in the bird!

ali said...

Stove Top is a sin against nature.

MyKidsEatSquid said...

I followed over from a post on Lindsey's FB page. I'm so impressed your dad was the one with the stuffing prowess. We never had stuffing at my house until my sister discovered stovetop. Buttered noodles with poppy seeds, yes, but stuffing, no. I'm convinced to keep reading (I saw the cast iron pan in the pics:)