Classic Turkey Stuffing
Okay, I know Thanksgiving is over. Therefore, this recipe chimes in a little "late." However, this was the best turkey stuffing I ever made and it was, if pressed, my favorite bite of Thanksgiving dinner. If your family is like my family in that Christmas dinner is basically Thanksgiving part II - well, then I'm early for suggesting this dish for Christmas:-) I will be in big trouble from my husband if I don't make this dish for Christmas dinner.
Classic Turkey Stuffing
2 1/2 loaves of Pepperidge Farms sandwich bread, torn in bite sized pieces
8 cups or, 2 quarts of homemade turkey stock
1 large onion, diced - about 2 cups
6 stalks of celery, diced - about 2 cups
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of rubbed sage
2 tablespoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
1) 1 to 3 days ahead of time make homemade turkey stock. I make turkey stock just like I make chicken stock - only substituting the bones from 1 or 2 turkey breast roasts instead of chicken. Store strained stock in the refrigerator until your ready to make stuffing. When you begin making the stuffing remove the stock from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
2) 1 day before, or on the day you are cooking tear 2 1/2 loaves of quality sandwich bread (Pepperidge Farms is by far the best) into bite sized pieces and store in a 4 quart covered casserole dish. The bread will be heaping - but the dome glass lid should still fit, albeit snug. (When I lived in California, I couldn't find this so I would substitute Trader Joe's Potato bread. This is the best substitution I have found, so far).
3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice onion and celery and place in a sauce pot with two sticks of melted butter. Add sage, salt, and pepper and saute over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes until the celery and onion are semi-soft.
4) Take half of the bread out of the casserole dish and layer with half of the butter vegetable mixture. Replace the rest of the bread and top with the remaining butter vegetable mixture.
5) Start ladling the stock over evenly over all of the bread. If the stock is too gelatinous to ladle you may have to heat it in a sauce pan until it is easier to handle. As the mounded bread begins to flatten make sure to get the stock through to the bottom pieces of bread and carefully mix to get vegetables, spices and stock evenly distributed. (There is probably an easier way to do this but I don't have a big mixing bowl, and doing this way leaves me one less bowl to clean).
6) Cover the stuffing and cook for 1 hour. All of the steam causes the stuffing to puff up like a souffle. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, and carefully remove the dome lid. Place the stuffing back in the oven for 30 minutes. At this point the stuffing falls back down a bit and is a little more browned. Place cover back on the stuffing for 30 minutes (yes it puffs back up again). Remove the lid again for the last 15 to 20 minutes and keep in the oven until you're ready to serve. (The following picture was taken after the first hour)