A Dive into “Dressing” a Thanksgiving Staple

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!

INGREDIENTS:

-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)

TO PREPARE:

  • 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.

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