This classic American turkey stuffing is good as it stands, but it can also form the foundation for three other very popular variations--Giblet Stuffing, Oyster Stuffing, and Sausage Stuffing. My secret is a generous amount of celery leaves, which add a subtle, but distinctive difference. If you like your stuffing bound a little tighter with eggs, substitute 2 beaten eggs for 1/2 cup of the broth.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
3 medium celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves (from inner celery ribs)
1 pound firm white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried overnight or in the oven, or 10 cups plain bread croutons
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, preferably homemade
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups turkey or chicken broth, as needed
1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and celery leaves. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden, about 8 minutes.
2. Scrape the vegetables and butter into a large bowl. Mix in the bread cubes, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in about 1 1/2 cups of broth, until the stuffing is evenly moistened but not soggy. Use as a stuffing. Or place in a lightly buttered casserole, drizzle with 1/2 cup broth, cover, and bake as a side dish.
Giblet and Bread Stuffing:
Use the giblets from your turkey. With a heavy cleaver, chop the turkey neck into 2- to 3- inch pieces. Trim the liver and refrigerate. In a large saucepan, cook the neck, heart, and gizzard in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add 1 each quartered small onion and carrot, 3 parsley sprigs, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme. Pour in enough chicken broth or water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until the giblets are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the turkey liver and simmer until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, saving the stock if desired. Let the giblets cool. Pull the meat off the neck. Chop the neck meat, heart, gizzard, and liver. Stir into Classic Bread Stuffing (above) along with the bread cubes.
Oyster and Bread Stuffing:
Drain 2 (8-ounce) containers of oysters and reserve the juices. (Or shuck 24 oysters, opening them over a fine wire sieve placed over a bowl to catch the juices.) If the oysters are large, cut them into 2 or 3 pieces. Add the oysters to Classic Bread Stuffing along with the bread cubes. Add enough turkey or chicken broth to the reserved oyster juices to make 1 1/2 cups and to use to moisten the stuffing mixture.
Sausage and Bread Stuffing:
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook 1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add to Classic Bread Stuffing (above) with the bread cubes and mix. Reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon.
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Excerpted from 50 BEST STUFFINGS AND DRESSINGS by Rick Rodgers Copyright© 1997 by Rick Rodgers. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.