By Jed Root (CFO of MILAMORE)
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be intimidating for a number of reasons. First, the whole holiday basically revolves around the dinner. Second, the dinner is pretty much composed of dishes that most of us only eat once a year, hardly giving us a chance to perfect our skills. Finally, most people are not particularly fond of turkey, the must-have centerpiece of Thanksgiving, so we always serve it with a plethora of side dishes.
One of those must-have side dishes is turkey stuffing, or as we now call it “dressing”. Back in the day, the idea was to stuff your bird with moist bread & herbs with the goal of having it soak up all the delicious juices from the turkey. It’s a nice idea, but more often than not, the stuffing would be likely to be a vector for food-borne illness. It’s nearly impossible to ensure that the stuffing has reached a high enough temperature to kill any pathogens, and if you do reach that temperature, you’ve probably over-cooked the turkey to an unpleasant cardboard texture.
So the solution is to cook it separately; we now call it dressing. It can even be cooked the day before, refrigerated & then reheated & browned on Thanksgiving Day to save time!
-2 1lb loaves of bread cubed & dried (approx. 10-12 cups)
-Turkey giblets, finely chopped (optional)
-1 cup butter
-4 celery stalks, finely chopped
-1 cup celery leaves, chopped
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-6-8 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
-1 TBS fresh thyme leaves (no stems)
-2 eggs, beaten
-2-3 cups turkey stock (or chicken)
- Cube the bread & spread it on a baking sheet to dry for an hour or two. You can also buy bags of pre-cubed bread around Thanksgiving. But in any case, air dry it a bit. The bread should be quite dry, but not rock hard like a crouton.
- In a large skillet, brown the turkey giblets (heart, gizzard, liver, discard the neck) in 3 TBS of butter, set aside.
- Lower the heat & add the rest of the butter, celery & onions. Sauté until lightly browned.
- Add giblets, celery leaves, sage & thyme. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Put the cubed bread in a large bowl & toss in the beaten eggs to thoroughly coat the bread.
- Mix in the stock a little at a time to moisten the bread. You want the bread to be quite moist, but not soggy.
- Mix in the giblet, onion & herb mixture.
- Place in an oven proof baking dish. Earthenware or oven proof glass works best. But if you only have a metal one, that’s fine. Cover tightly with foil.
- Bake in a preheated 325⁰F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil & bake for another 30-40 minutes until the top is browned & slightly crispy.