Yes, I know, it’s been too long, and yes, I know, I should have put this up closer to Thanksgiving. I apologize, now let’s move on. =)
Okay, so I can’t imagine a turkey dinner without stuffing. (This is possibly because I am a totally unrepentant starch junkie.) Funny thing about stuffing is it’s one of those things that is actually pretty easy to make from scratch (and that’s a sliding scale, depending on your definition of “scratch”) but so many people get lazy or intimidated (or both) and go with the over-salted, over-processed box stuff, which to me just doesn’t taste as good. Or even worse, tastes amazing and then you read the nutrition label and you’re scarred for life.
Let’s change that, okay? Stuffing isn’t complicated. I’ve made different versions of it quite a few times now, and at no time did I measure a thing, and they’ve all come out brilliant.
So here’s what you need:
Croutons. Or stale-ish bread. If you’ve got croutons (I won’t tell anyone if you use store-bought croutons, I promise.) then skip ahead. If you’ve got bread, cut it into bite-size cubes, and bake them in the oven until they’re dried out and crispy like… well, croutons.
Onion, celery, and carrots, all diced fine. Use as little as a handful of each, or however much you want. When I’m making a big ol’ casserole dish, I go with one good-sized yellow onion, a couple carrots, and a couple big stalks of celery.
Thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, pepper, and whatever else you like for seasonings. And don’t be shy.
Butter and/or olive oil. You can omit the butter, but I like that buttery flavor.
Chicken broth. (or vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian.)
Ready to go? Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter in a decently hot skillet (or heat the oil, or do what I do and use equal parts butter and oil for the best flavor results)
Saute your garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Keep them going until everything’s soft and you have some caramelization on your veg.
Add them to your croutons (they ARE in a big mixing bowl right now, right?).
Mix all that lovely stuff together. Pour in some warm broth. Repeat until about half of the mixture is mushy. Now add some more broth for good measure. Just a couple splashes. Now add your salt, pepper, thyme, sage, paprika… whatever you like. Take a taste. Is it awesome yet? If not, add some more.
Dump the whole lot into a baking dish. Yes, it will be liquid, and that is totally okay. I’ve never had a stuffing that was too wet. Dry bread absorbs more than you think it will.
Everything up to this point you can do in advance, and then just cover it up and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it off (or you have room in the oven.)
So. Bake it in a 350 degree oven until it’s warmed through and the liquid is absorbed. If you keep the cover on, it will take longer. If you take the cover off, it will probably take a bit less time, and you get the added benefit of some crisping on top.
See? That wasn’t so bad. And now you’ve got really fantastic homemade stuffing that isn’t all full of preservatives and things I can’t even begin to pronounce.
If you’re really hardcore like me, you’ll even bake your own bread for the stuffing. I baked up a pan of rosemary focaccia to turn into croutons for stuffing, and it’s pretty much the most awesome stuffing ever.
So get out and experiment. Good luck and happy stuffing!