Holiday Dressing or Stuffing
From now until just before Thanksgiving I am going to be posting recipes that I make for the big day. This is my dressing or stuffing recipe. I say stuffing but I don’t stuff a turkey, I always bake it outside the bird but in case you like to stuff you certainly can, just make sure you follow safety guidelines (stuffing should be the same temperature as the turkey).
This recipe is quite a few years in the making, it took a lot of tweaking, changing, and manipulating to get the results I wanted and by jove I got it, about 10 Thanksgivings worth of experimentation really.
Growing up, the mainstay of our Thanksgiving meal was pasta, primarily because of my Italian Father but my Mom always roasted a capon, made cornbread dressing and other side dishes along with the pasta. I always loved cornbread dressing and that is the base from which I started. You will see a lot of ingredients, don’t be intimidated, it really comes together fairly quickly and if you have a food processor it’s even quicker. I add a lot of nuts, walnuts and pecans. herbed bread cubes, vegetables, fruit, bacon or pancetta (your choice) and flavor with sage. It is so delicious and if I ever chose not to make this on Thanksgiving my family would be very upset.
Makes A lot of dressing/stuffing
Double your favorite recipe for cornbread
4 cups cubed herbed bread
2 cups ground walnuts
2 cups chopped pecans
1 Chopped white or yellow onion
1 Chopped Granny Smith Apple skin removed
1 Pomegranate with the seeds removed its approximately one cup.(OPTIONAL)
1 pound good quality bacon cooked until crisp
2 tbs bacon fat
2-3 cups chicken stock (add in installments you don’t want your stuffing to wet)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk or half and half
2-4 teaspoons dried sage (If using fresh sage increase the amount to suit your taste)
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (black, mixed, your choice)
4-6 tablespoons butter to saute vegetables
- Double a recipe for cornbread, I like to bake it a day or two before I make the stuffing cut into cubes or break off small chunks and set out on a baking sheet to dry or you can scatter on two baking sheets and bake in a 200 degree oven until dried.You can also air dry uncovered but its quicker in the oven.
- You can make your own herbed bread cubes by cutting a day old loaf of artisan bread into cubes, toss with some chopped herbs (I like sage) and bake in a 200 degree oven until bread is toasted or you can use bagged cubed herbed bread if you wish
- Grind walnuts in food processor and brown in fry pan on low heat careful not to burn, You will know they are done when you can smell the walnuts.
- Chop pecans, onion, apple and celery. Melt butter (You can use olive oil if you like) in saute pan add the onions and celery saute until onions are translucent then add the pecans, pomegranate,apple and the sage continue cooking until the ingredients are cooked through but not mushy. Fry the bacon until its crisp break into bite size pieces set aside.Reserve 2 tbs of bacon fat and add to dressing.
- In large mixing bowl add the cornbread and bread cubes. Add all the other ingredients Toss to mix careful not to over mix you want the breads to retain its shape as much as possible. Now add the chicken stock, eggs and milk and mix everything together. Adjust seasoning, add salt if you wish or more sage to suit your taste.
- Butter your casserole or baking pan and put your dressing in. Bake covered with foil in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes then to crisp the top drizzle some of the pan juices from the turkey on top and put in broiler for a few minutes until the top is crisp. You can make this a day ahead and then refrigerate.(Let sit at room temperature for an hour before baking) NOTE: I like to cover and bake then crisp in the broiler you can with very good results just bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes.
- I like to use as few pans as possible, in the morning I add the dried cornbread and bread cubes to a large mixing bowl and add what I cooked to the bowl as I go using the same saute pan for everything. Since there are so many steps here I find this makes sense. In the end I only have one saute pan to wash.