I think this stuffing is the only reason I keep getting invited back to cook Thanksgiving dinner at our friends’ home. I overheard Dustin speaking with our friends, Ty and V, the other night about Thanksgiving. Dustin was confirming we were still on for having dinner at their place. Ty, in a slightly nervous tone said, “Yep,” and then said, “Lacey’s gonna make her stuffing, right?”
Feels good to be loved…well, at least for my food. Heehee.
Growing up, my mom would make her stuffing with Cream of Mushroom Soup to moisten the stuffing. I enjoyed her stuffing, but I wanted to try my own methods as I grew up and began to start my own Thanksgiving traditions.
There have been quite a few trial and errors, let me tell you.
The first year Dustin and I made our own Thanksgiving dinner, I tried an apple and bacon cornbread stuffing out of a magazine. Fancy, right? Let’s just say…it didn’t get eaten. Not sure what exactly went wrong, but I guess the flavors from the cornbread, apples and bacon just didn’t play well together. Sad. I was so excited about that one.
Over the years, I have come to love this Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe. For its simplicity. For its flavors. For its texture. For its overall yummyness.
A word about stuffing: Rather than cook my stuffing in the bird, I choose to cook the stuffing separately. I watched an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown about five years ago that explained the unsanitary nature of cooking the stuffing in the bird. You see, even though the bird’s meat reaches a safe temperature to consume, the unsafe juices soak into the stuffing and don’t reach the appropriate temperature to cook off. Therefore, I fill the bird with aromatics (like orange slices, fresh herbs and onion quarters) to help flavor the bird while it cooks. Then, I discard them (more on this in a later post!). Just an FYI, if you’re interested. If it’s good enough for Alton, it’s good enough for me.
I hope you try this stuffing recipe. It’s great for Thanksgiving or any other night of the week.
1 French or Sourdough Loaf, cut into 3/4-inch to 1-inch cubes
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped into large pieces
3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 sprigs (approx. 1 tbsp.) fresh thyme, leaves only
2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread bread cubes evenly over two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. Bake cubes in oven until completely dried and beginning to harden and turn golden, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer dried bread to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Grease a baking dish (or two) and set aside.
Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and saute until mushrooms are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Once golden, add 2 more tbsp. butter, celery, onion and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery and onion have softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add sage and remaining 2 tbsp. butter once vegetables are softened. Add chicken broth and stir mixture to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully pour chicken broth mixture over the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. If desired, you can reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid to assess moistness of the bread cubes before incorporating all the broth. As written, the stuffing will be quite moist.
Carefully pour mixture into prepared baking dish(es). Take care not to pack the stuffing into the dish. Bake until heated through and the top begins to turn golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.