After posting my Thanksgiving Menu here on Mama Cranberry, I received a request to share my actual Stuffing Recipe. I would like to go on record saying that I don’t actually use a recipe for my Stuffing, I never have. I wake up at 6:00 on the big day, and while the coffee is brewing, I start making the Stuffing and getting the Turkey ready to go into the oven. That being said, I have gone into the kitchen, and worked out the recipe for how I make my Homemade Stuffing.
Flavorful Homemade Stuffing
I think Stuffing should be more than just seasoned bread cooked with a Turkey. To add Flavor and Texture to my stuffing I add an array of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs. The final product comes out as a delicious medley of Sweet, Savory, and Tart. The Texture is Moist, Soft with little bits of Crisp and Chewy.
Homemade Stuffing Base
To start with, you need bread of some sort. We have Gluten allergies in our house, so I make my stuffing Gluten Free. In an effort to balance my time effectively, I buy whatever inexpensive Gluten Free bread I find. For the last couple of years, I’ve been buying Gluten Free hot dog buns.
You can use what ever you have, or like. If you are not Gluten Free, I would suggest using a mixture of breads if you have them. A couple of slices of Rye bread is heavenly in this recipe. This is also a good time to clean out any small quantities of bread crusts, buns or extras from the freezer. Just keep in mind, you don’t want any sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls or doughnuts.
I add texture in two ways. First, I add in a little bit of Wild Rice (Pre-soaked). The Wild Rice stays firm as the stuffing cooks, and provides a little bit of firm chew to the texture. It also adds a nice, nutty flavor to the whole dish.
Second, I add in some finely chopped Celery. This adds crunch to the stuffing. I add the celery in fresh, and have never had a problem with it getting soft during the cooking process.
Fruit is not necessarily the ingredient that springs to mind for Stuffing. However, the addition of some crisp apple adds an element of tartness to the dish. To round out the tartness of the apples, I like to add in a small amount of raisins. They bring a nice earthy sweetness, as well as add an extra texture component with their plump juiciness.
The first savory flavor you will notice in my Stuffing is Sausage. I use some of my Homemade Breakfast Sausage patties. They infuse the whole dish with their delicious flavors. Plus, they add in yet another component of texture.
To add in some more flavor, I added in some herbs. Playing off of the flavors in the sausage, I added in Sage, Thyme and Rosemary. I also added in a few of the leaves from the celery.
Another possible savory addition is to chop up the gizzard and heart into small pieces, and add them into the mixture. They add in a little meatiness to the texture, and just enhance the turkey flavor. I’ve always diced them up small enough (smaller than the raisins), so that no one really knows they’re in the stuffing.
Finally, I add in some broth. This moistens the bread, as well as adds another component of flavor. Depending on what I have on hand, I will use either Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth.
Homemade Stuffing Preparation
I leave the bread out to dry, on the counter, the evening before I need it. If I remember, I will also start the wild rice soaking in some water the night before, as well. Additionally, the sausage could be pre-cooked and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.
To get started, you need to cut your dried bread into cubes. I like them to be a large (almost rude) bite size. I find that the bread retains its prominence in this dish if the cubes are a little bigger.
To this, I add in all of the other ingredients, except the broth. I pause here, give it a stir and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. (Remember, I am still on the first couple of sips of coffee.) I melt a little butter (helps keep it moist, too), and combine it with the broth. Then I pour in a little broth, stir the stuffing, pour in a little broth and stir…until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the bread is moist, but not soggy.
From here, I set the mixture aside and get the Turkey ready. I rinse it, make sure that the neck and organs are not in the cavity, and get it situated in the roasting pan. Then, I stuff the Turkey full of Stuffing. I put any extra Stuffing, that doesn’t fit into the bird, around the outside of it, near the opening I just filled.
As a side note, I was reading in my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, to see if I’m doing all of this right. What I discovered is that I haven’t made stuffing “right” in over twenty five years. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to pack the stuffing into the bird, you’re supposed to just lightly fill it… Well, I’ve always put in as much as I could, and have never ruined the Turkey, or the Stuffing.
Anyhow, as a rule of thumb, Betty Crocker also says that you should allow for 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of bird.