You don’t get much more “white bread” than growing up Methodist in a small town…
and that’s exactly what kind of dressing my Momo made every Thanksgiving, white bread dressing.
Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of new ideas on Thanksgiving…one year I made Southwestern Sweet Potatoes out of Gourmet Magazine that had so much tequila in them the dog had to finish them off. They were awful!
I’ve come back to my favorites, with a twist. This is my Momo’s Thanksgiving dressing, with a few little tricks that I think make it even better, although it is hard to compete with the Thanksgiving dinner I ate at a modest home in Olmsted, Illinois, almost every November of my life.
If steps 1 & 2 are done ahead of time, you can pick up with step 3 while the turkey rests after cooking. This recipe easily serves 6 – 8 so just double or triple for your crowd.
Jane’s Thanksgiving Dressing
3 yellow onions
8 stalks celery
1/2 loaf white store bought sliced bread, 1/2 French baguette, 1/2 bag store bought stuffing
48 ounce container chicken stock
drippings from roasted turkey
4 – 1/2 cup sticks of butter
salt, cracked black pepper, dried sage & poultry seasoning
(vegetables can be chopped the day before so you don’t have a big mess)
3 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
8 stalks celery including leaves, coarsely chopped (use more or less celery depending on how much you like)
Preheat oven to 375
(the traditional way is to set the bread out a day or two ahead of time to dry out. I put mine in the oven for about a half hour because I like the bread to get a little brown; I think it’s less likely to be soggy.)
Cut the Baguette into pieces big enough that they will dry out. Put baguette pieces and slices of white bread on a cookie sheet and put in the 425 oven for about a half hour, turning occasionally. I like mine to be toasty. When cooled, break bread into coarse pieces and mix with the store bought stuffing. Set aside
Skim fat from bottom of turkey roaster. Add chicken stock. Simmer for about ten minutes on low heat, reducing. Strain liquid and salt & pepper to taste. Set aside 3 cups of broth for dressing and save the remainder for gravy.
While stock is simmering, melt 1 1/4 cup butter in pan that is large enough to hold all ingredients when finished. It’s best if this pan is large enough to saute the onion and celery without steaming it. Add the chopped onion and saute until just translucent. Remove onion and add celery; saute celery until just tender; I don’t like my celery too done, but that’s personal preference. Turn heat off and add onion back into pan with celery. Season with 1/2 tsp salt.
Putting It All Together
Add broken bread pieces to onion and celery mixture. Add 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 2 tsp dried sage, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp coarsely cracked black pepper. Stir just to barely mix. Add 3 cups reduced stock, three whisked eggs and stir just to mix again.
I like a firm stuffing so I try not to mix too much or the bread gets soggy.
Taste for seasoning (I always throw in a little more cracked black pepper at the end and you’ll need to salt to your taste) turn into a shallow baking dish and dot with remaining butter. Bake at 325 for at least 30 minutes, until dressing is nicely browned on top.
Important * Dressing is essentially bread pudding, and like any good bread pudding, dressing needs a sauce. The dressing itself should not be soft enough to be eaten alone.
You should have enough reduced stock left to give you a head start on your turkey gravy. Serve your dressing with a ladle of gravy over it and enjoy.
So which is it at your house? White bread or cornbread? Dressing or stuffing?