Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Ah, the flavors and smells of Thanksgiving. They all come together in this traditional bread stuffing (or dressing)—surely one of the most important dishes on the Thanksgiving menu. It matters not whether you and your family call it dressing or stuffing, bake it in a separate dish or inside of your turkey, the Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t be the same without it.
I have updated the classic bread stuffing with an abundance of fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme), the addition of wild mushrooms (dried porcini and shiitakes and fresh shiitakes and creminis), and a switch to artisan, sourdough or whole grain bread. And, of course, it’s an easy substitution of vegetable stock for a vegetarian stuffing and olive oil for the butter for a vegan version.
Four Tips for Great Stuffing
- Cut the bread into approximately ¾-inch cubes a couple of days in advance and set them on a pan to dry out.
- Replace your poultry seasoning each year for the best flavor.
- Buy “Turkey herbs”—fresh, whole herbs already packaged together–a boon if, like me, your garden’s asleep for the winter.
- Add enough stock to really moisten all of the bread, as it will dry out in the oven. Crisp on top and moist on the inside makes for perfect stuffing.
Yield: 10+ servings
14 cups ¾-inch bread cubes (i.e., sourdough, rosemary/olive oil, whole grain), cut in advance and allowed to dry for a couple of days
2 cups water
1 ounce dried porcini
1 ounce dried shiitake
4 ounces butter (or olive oil)
1 large onion, thinly sliced pole to pole
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
3 cups celery, medium dice
1 pound fresh shiitakes, stems removed, caps thickly sliced
1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1+ tablespoons poultry seasoning to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 cups homemade turkey (or vegetable) stock
Place the dried mushrooms and water in a small pot and bring to the boil. Cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the mushrooms sit for about 20 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Thinly slice the soaked shiitake caps (discarding the stems) and lightly chop the porcini.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven and add the onions. When just golden, stir in the leeks and celery and cook until the celery is tender. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms and sauté till tender. Stir in the soaked dried mushrooms, fresh herbs, poultry seasoning, mushroom soaking liquid and 1 cup of the turkey stock.
Off the heat (and perhaps in a bowl large enough to hold everything) stir in the bread. Add enough additional turkey stock to soften and moisten the bread. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, fresh herbs and poultry seasoning to taste.
Place the stuffing in a lightly sprayed oven-proof dish or dishes. Cover the dish(es) with foil. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, then uncovered for another 15-20 minutes till golden brown and crisp on top. (Note: if you are braising your turkey at 300 degrees, go ahead and cook the stuffing at the same temperature. Just be sure to bring the stuffing up to room temperature before putting it into the oven. And, keep it in the oven while you are slicing up the turkey.)
Note: The stuffing can be prepared a day or two in advance of baking it.
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