One of my favorite — and most memorable — Thanksgiving memories dates back to when I was still living at home with my dad. The unmistakable smell of onions, celery, turkey giblets and sage cooking in butter — lots of butter — would gently waft into my bedroom and wake me. As I woke, I realized that my dad was up early, making his homemade stuffing, which, fortunately for those of us he cooked for, he made every year.
Many years later, when it was my turn to start cooking T-giving dinner, I asked my dad how to make stuffing. However, since he rarely uses recipes, he wasn’t much help. “Take about this much sage,” he’d say, palming some of the lovely green spice, “and some butter and chop up some onions and celery …” Those vague measurements didn’t help me.
After a few years of trial and error, I got it right. And, I had the foresight that year to write it down so I could share it with … well, since I always make T-giving dinner, I really didn’t have anyone to share it with. But now, fellow foodie friend, I can share it with you.
- 1 cup butter
- 5-6 stalks celery chopped
- 1 yellow, orange or red pepper
- 2 medium onions chopped
- one loaf of white bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- one loaf of wheat bread cubed
- one loaf of potato bread cubed
- 1 1/2 pound breakfast sausage
- sage to taste
- poultry seasoning to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 of 14-ounce can of chicken broth
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of your cut-up bread into your roasting pan and bake until crunchy. Turn every 10 to 15 minutes so all of the bread gets browned. Honestly, I’ve lost track how long this takes. Let’s say 45 minutes.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet then add the celery, pepper and onions with some — depending on how much you like it — sage and poultry seasoning. Cook until soft. Then set aside.
In a separate skillet, brown your sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooks. When it’s brown, set aside.
When your bread cubes are nice and brown and crunchy, remove from the oven. Pour the melted butter and vegetables over your bread cubes and stir until combined. Then add your sausage, mixing thoroughly. At this point, you may want to add more sage and some salt and pepper. Gradually add the chicken broth, stirring thoroughly.
Once it’s all combined, spoon your stuffing into a buttered baking dish and bake covered for 30 minutes then uncovered for 15 minutes.
But wait … there’s more. I happen to like funkier stuffing. So, before I pop all of the “conventional” stuffing in the oven, I remove about 4 cups of it and set it aside. For funkier stuffing:
- 4 cups of the stuffing you just made
- 1/4 cup butter
- Handful of dried cranberries
- Handful of pecans
- One apple peeled, cored and chopped (I usually use a Cortland)
Melt your butter in a small skillet. Add the apple, cranberries and pecans. Cook until the apple is soft. Add the mixture to the 4 cups of stuffing. Bake as directed above.
Now, if more of your guests like funkier stuffing, you may want to adjust these proportions. At my table there are only a few of us who like it this way.
I am grateful for many things this Thanksgiving. One of my many blessings is having fellow foodies to share recipes with. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.