Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - A Tale of Two Stuffings

Stuffing seems to be everybody's favorite part of Thanksgiving, right? Stuffing and the pies. I made two stuffings because I cannot have a Thanksgiving without my Nana's meat dressing, but I wanted to do a more traditional bread stuffing as well.

I really like these stuffing guidelines on marthastewart.com. There are countless ways to make stuffing, and this lets you make it your own.

1 one-pound loaf of bread set out overnight (or 1 1/2 pounds cornbread)
4 cups (2 pounds) chopped vegetables
1 cup fresh herbs, predominantly parsley, sage, and thyme
2 cups or less liquid (or 3 eggs)
1 pound meat
Butter and/or olive oil
4 cups or less fruit, vegetables, and nuts
3 tablespoons seasoning

Basically you cook the meat, remove it from the pan and cook the vegetables in the same pan. Mix everything together in a bowl and bake in a glass dish for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here's the breakdown of what ingredients/amounts I actually used.

1 one-pound loaf French bread, cut into cubes and set out overnight
1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/2 cups leeks, diced
1/3 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 fresh thyme
somewhere between 1 and 2 cups chicken stock, add as needed
1 pound bulk sweet Italian pork sausage
2 large apples, diced
1 cup pecans, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

And now, for Nana's meat dressing. The key ingredient here is Bell's Seasoning. I had my mom bring some to me the last time she visited Chicago because I can't find it at my regular grocery stores here. I don't think it's too hard to find, she bought it at Kroger, but you can order it online too. This is the full recipe but I cut it in half.

4 lbs. ground pork
1 lbs. ground beef
2 onions, chopped
1/2 bud garlic, chopped
1/2 cup water
salt, pepper, celery salt to taste
Bell's seasoning to taste
chicken broth as needed
1/2 package of bread stuffing (herbed)

Cook everything except chicken broth and bread stuffing together on medium high for 4 hours. Add stuffing near the end, and add chicken broth as needed to keep moist.

Ok now, I didn't want to mess with the recipe too much, but I changed a couple little things. I used one whole clove of garlic for the half recipe I made. I also used plain French bread that I cubed and left out overnight to get stale. It was probably 1 1/2 cups worth. My mom usually makes this for Thanksgiving about a week ahead, freezes it, and lets it sit in the a slow cooker all day on Thanksgiving. She waits to add the bread and chicken stock until it has thawed out in the slow cooker. I made it the day before, refrigerated it, and also gave it the slow cooker treatment the day of. 4 hours seems like a long time for the meat to cook on the stove, but you want it to get a really nice dark brown color.

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