Food Editor's Notes: My family likes classic, old-fashioned stuffing for Thanksgiving and other special occasions. Although you can add mushrooms, chestnuts, chopped giblets, or other flavor enhancers and herbs to this recipe, I use this basic version almost every time and I always make it in a separate glass casserole dish. This makes it easy to prepare in advance and easier to serve, plus you can produce a nice crust on top which many people like. I almost always use chicken fat, which can be bought in a kosher market (or you can use the fat that rises to the top of chilled homemade chicken stock). This recipe can be made without the eggs, but increase the chicken stock to 1 cup. I think the eggs add body to the texture and prefer it that way. It also produces a crispy browned bottom, as well as top, to the stuffing, whereas the no-egg, all chicken stock version produces an evenly moister, softer stuffing. Go by your preference – both taste great! If you have drippings from a roast chicken or turkey, definitely drizzle some of this over the stuffing while cooking to give it an even richer flavor
8 cups dry bread cubes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chicken fat or margarine (1 stick)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or dried sage leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten well
1/2 cup chicken stock (or 1 cup if not using the egg)
Drippings from a roast chicken or turkey (optional)
To dry the bread cubes, cut them up and set out on a cookie sheet to dry for several hours or overnight (depending on their size), or bake them in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and place in a large bowl.
Heat the chicken fat or margarine in a frying pan and cook the celery and onion in it until tender but not brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
Add the onion and celery mixture to the bread cubes. Add the beaten eggs and the chicken stock and lightly toss to moisten all the bread.
Place in a greased casserole dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes. If you want a totally soft and moist stuffing, cover the dish while baking. If you'd like a crispy top, leave the dish uncovered. Sometimes at the end, I mix up the stuffing to distribute the crispy parts throughout the dish. You can also use a deeper casserole dish to get more soft insides and less crispy topping. For added flavor, drizzle a few tablespoons of drippings from a roast chicken or roast turkey over the top at any time.
Serve immediately, or cook in advance and reheat. The stuffing can be reheated multiple times, but drizzle some chicken stock over the top if it seems like it's drying out.
Yield: Approximately 8 servings
Jamie Stolper is the Food Editor of ShalomBoston.com.
Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing