Bread & Butter & Sage Stuffing With Cranberries
"If you stuff it in the bird it is stuffing. If it is served on the side it is dressing." Meathead
Here's a very traditional stuffing recipe perfect for turkey or for stuffing a pork loin roast (above). It was inspired by a recipe from my former student and teacher, David Rosengarten. He was a student in my wine classes at Cornell, and I call him my teacher because he since became a famous chef, one of the first hosts of the FoodNetwork, author of several cookbooks, and I have learned immensely by listening to him and reading his work. He travels the world, reports on his culinary adventures, and creates amazing, complex recipes for his Rosengarten Report.
Here's a fun idea: Jessica Szegedi Gesell runs the blog MommyBistro. She puts her stuffing (with sausage) in an onion! What a great idea!
Secrets for great stuffing
Start with good bread. The better the bread, the better the stuffing. Go for a rustic Italian loaf or even an eggy challah. Skip the baguette. It has too much crust. But don't eschew crust.
Amp up the veggies by sautéing, roasting, or smoking them first.
Use reduced stock. Moisten the bread with low sodium chicken stock rather than water, and reduce it to really boost flavor.
Use the gravy from my Ultimate Turkey recipe. If you make my recipe for The Ultimate Turkey, and you should, the gravy from this recipe is the best thing to use. Just remove 4 cups from the drip pan while the bird is cooking for the stuffing. No need to reduce that stuff.
Don't stuff the bird. Juices from the bird infiltrate the stuffing (but not as many as you think) and if you do not cook it all the way up to 165°F in the center you could get a tummy ache. Worse, by the time the time the heat travels all the way to the center of the stuffing, the meat will be waaay over optimum, perhaps 180°F, and that is shoe leather boardering on cardboard. Just put just a few sprigs of herbs, some onion, and orange rind in the cavity so the aromatics can season the meat from the inside out. Bake the stuffing in a shallow pan so there is more surface on top to get crunchy while underneath it remains chewy. It is like a savory bread pudding.
Makes. 12 servings
Takes. Assembly takes 30 minutes, baking takes about 1 hour.
3 pounds Italian bread, sliced
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter (salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup peeled and chopped apple
4 cups low sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
1 tablespoon of dried thyme (2 tablespoons fresh)
2 tablespoons dried crushed sage leaves (4 tablespoons fresh chopped)
1 cup cranberry raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
About the stock. If you have made my Ultimate Turkey you will almost certainly have leftover stock. This is a great place to use it.
1) Slice the bread and grill it over medium heat to dry it out and bring some nice golden toasty flavor to the party. Watch things closely because they can go from golden to burned in a hurry. Cut it into squares about 1/2" on all sides. Precision not required! Leave the crust on.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the celery and onions and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the thyme, sage, cranberry raisins, salt, and pepper, and cook for only 1 minute.
3) Pour the mixture over the bread. Add the apples and stock. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
4) Put the mixture in a large roasting pan. I use a ovenproof glass pan so I can make sure the bottom isn't burning. Set up a grill for 2-zone cooking and preheat to 325°F in the indirect side. Bake on the indirect side oven, covered, with foil for about 60 minutes until it is at least 160°F in the center. It should be golden and crisp on top, and firm but not too wet in the center.
Of course you can do this in an indoor oven too, just don't put it on the bottom rack or it will burn. To make Muffings, follow the instructions in the sidebar.