American Elephants

The Best Stuffing Is The Simplest! by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2012, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming | Tags: , ,

Having gone this far, I’ll offer my stuffing recipe as well. If you love cornbread stuffing, want all sorts of foreign materials in your stuffing, this is not for you.

Stuffing is easy to make, but a few simple tricks help. You want a homestyle or farm style white bread,  the closer to home-made the better — heavier and coarser than standard sandwich bread, Day-old is fine. Buy two loaves several days early. At least the day before you are going to make stuffing, spread the bread out on a cookie sheet to air dry. The night before, tear the bread into pieces roughly the size of large croutons, and leave out to dry more. I usually make up about a loaf and a half. The recipe is vague and to taste. You can’t really go wrong.

1½ loaves homestyle bread torn into small pieces
1½– 2 cups celery in roughly ¼ inch dice
1 large onion diced, or 2 smaller ones
Toss well till mixed.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and ground pepper
Sprinkle lightly with sage, probably a slightly
heaping teaspoonful. I prefer the kind that are
crumbled leaves rather than ground to a powder.
Optional: add some celery seed.

Melt 1 cube of butter (do not brown). Pour slowly over
the bread mixture while tossing, until it is slightly
moist. You don’t have to use it all. ½–¾ cup may
be plenty. Taste it frequently till it seems right.

That’s it. Add nothing else. No broth. The dry stuffing goes directly in
both cavities of the bird, firmly packed.  If you are passionate about
oysters in your dressing, you can add cut up oysters, but don’t, as
they say, put earrings on an elephant.

If you have too much stuffing mix, put it in a casserole, pour a little turkey broth (neck, giblets, chopped and simmered with celery and onion) and bake along with the bird if you have room, or refrigerate and bake later.


5 Comments so far
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Sounds good. And easy. But I have to agree with this web site that the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten is this one, from the Silver Palate Cookbook”, intended for use with pheasant, but in fact great with any poultry:

Quoting now:

This is hands-down the best poultry stuffing I’ve ever had. It takes some work, so whever I make this recipe, I make a double-batch of the stuffing, and freeze it in ziplock bags before wetting it with broth. Later when I want to roast something small and simple like a chicken or guinea hens, I just pull the ziplock out of the freezer, pour hot broth over the stuffing, stuff my bird, and roast.

On an amusing sidenote, the recipe is prefaced this way in the cookbook: “We think pheasant is one of the most delicious of the domestically raised game birds available to us. It is rich and meaty, with a firm texture no longer found in chicken. If care is taken during roasting, the meat is moist and succulent.” Of course our customers know that you can in fact still get Real Chicken, and this recipe works great with chicken too. And guinea hen. And almost any game bird.

2 pheasants or guinea hens, or one large roasting chicken, or a Red Bourbon Turkey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried marjoram, or 2 cups fresh in season
1/4 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp fresh in season
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs Italian parsley
3 cups chicken stock (of course make your own from Kookoolan Farms feet and necks, don’t buy canned)
12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) sweet butter
10 medium-sized leeks, white part only, well cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups crumbs from good-quality white or wheat bread
2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
4 slices of pancetta, 4 oz total (bacon can be substituted, but pancetta really tastes different and better!)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Rinse poultry inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. If organs are available, chop neck, heart and gizzard but save the liver for another use.

2. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Brown neck and giblets well, turning frequently. Add onion, carrot, and 1 tsp marjoram. Reduce heat to low and cook covered undtil vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Uncover, add thyme, bay, parsley, and stock, and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, and reserve.

4. Melt the butter in a skillet. Stir in the sliced leeks and cook covered over low heat about 30 minutes until very tender.

5. Toss the leeks and their butter with the bread crumbs, pecans, chopped parsley, and remaining marjoram. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and toss again. (NOTE: at this point you can freeze part of the stuffing for later convenience.) If the stuffing seems dry, moisten it with the reserved broth.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

7. Stuff your poultry, truss if necessary, and drape the breasts with pancetta. Set the birds in a roasting pan.

8. Set the roasting pan in the middle of the oven and roast until done, basting occasionally with the fat and juices that accumulate. When done, remove the birds from the pan, cover with foil, and keep warm while you make the gravy.

9. Pour excess fat out of the pan (of course reserve it for later sauteeing of vegetables and potatoes). Pour reserved stock and heavy cream into the pan, and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, sturring and scraping up any browned bits, until sauce is reduced by about one third. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper, and morethyme if desired.

10. Carve bird(s), arrange the meat on a platter, mound the stuffing in the center of the platter, and drizzle the meat and stuffing with the sauce. Serve immediately, passing the remaining sauce in a boat.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Gaaack! Foreign materials! Foreign materials! Carrots? Leeks? Pecans? I had cornbread stuffing once, and could hardly eat it, but Southerners love it. There’s no accounting for taste. I do have the Silver Palate Cookbook.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Carrots are foreign to Seattle?!

I’m not a big fan of cornbread stuffing either. The Silver Palate Cookbook has a fairly elaborate one, which is OK, but I just love the leek one. But I think you have to be somebody who likes the flavor of cooked onions. The pecans really provide a wonderful counter-point.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Materials I consider foreign to good dressing. I do a Moroccan carrot dish that we love. We like carrots. I have the Silver Palate Cookbook, but think it’s somewhat overrated. I’ve tried several of their recipes and haven’t been impressed.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Yes, I agree that the Silver Palate cookbook is over-rated. Our favorites are the books on classic Italian cooking by Marcella Hazan. Some of her recipies involve just three or four ingredients. Her lemon-stuffed roasted chicken (chicken, lemon, salt and pepper: secret is to start cooking the bird upside down) is the only kind of roasted chicken we make anymore.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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