Linda's Thanksgiving pan stuffing recipe
It is Thursday, November 25th, 2010 - Thanksgiving. My wife and I are busy in the kitchen most of the day, making stuffing to bring to dinner tomorrow at our daughter's home.
We do Thanksgiving on Friday because it's so much easier. Some of the guests used to have to come every other year because of commitments to their spouses family. Traffic is lighter, too - we like this arrangement.
We make the stuffing outside of the bird for several reasons. One is that several people think that cooking it in the bird can be dangerous and because the turkey requires more cooking time when stuffed. There is also a limit to how much stuffing you can put inside the bird - with pan stuffing, you can make whatever amount you want.
We have been making this stuffing for decades, but never bothered to write any of it down. This year I decided to document it both for our own family and for anyone else who needs a little help with its creation.
I took almost fifty pictures as we went along, but most of that was just to remind me of things - you won't have to see all of those!
This takes at least half a day. I'll start with an approximate ingredient list, but none of this is absolute. You can substitute and take things out if you want - it will still be good, we're sure.
So, basic ingredients:
Two bags Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
That's our favorite, but there is so much else to this, the brand may not matter much.
One Box Bells All Natural Seasoning
Of course you can use your own spices. We just like this.
3 All Purpose Potatoes
Turkey Necks (for broth)
Not so easy to find - we had to call around.
1 Lb Organic Celery Hearts
One Sweet Onion
2-3 Lb Mushrooms
Smart Balance Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spread or Butter, if you prefer.
Garlic Powder or Fresh Garlic
Wash the fresh turkey necks, the onion and the celery hearts. Well, we're going to be washing just about anything that can be washed, so if I forget to mention that, just assume it.
We didn't wash the stuffing mix, but we did cut open the bags and dump it in a bowl. Why? I don't know - we won't be anywhere near that bowl again for hours. Maybe we do it just to have more room on the counter. I don't question things like this.
The turkey necks are for the broth. They are good eating too, but not all that healthy (fat). We'll eat some of the meat anyway.
Linda's Dad used to love turkey neck meat; we thought of him while getting these ready to cook.
So, 4 quart pan, filtered water, turkey necks. We add a bit of onion and the tops (with the leaves) of the celery hearts. This is all set to simmer while we prepare the rest. The rest of the celery hearts will be used in the stuffing.
Cut up the potatoes and boil for about twenty minutes until soft. These will be for mashed/whipped potato that will also end up in the stuffing. We made a little more than we needed because we'll be getting some turkey leftovers and we'll want a little potato with that.
Trim and skin the rest of the celery. Chop up into chunks. Clean and chop up the rest of the onion too. Wash the mushrooms after removing the stems.
i know some people say you shouldn't wash mushrooms at all, claiming they absorb water. They don't. Other people say you must wash in very cold water or you will destroy the flavor - hello, we are going to cook these mushrooms!
We chopped them up very fine because one of the guest freaks if he sees mushrooms. He knows they are in the stuffing; he just doesn't want to see them. So we chop 'em small. It probably tastes better this way, but we used to leave much larger slices, which we thought was kind of pretty too. The mushroom phobic person would not agree.
That's about 25 caps chopped up in the picture. We left half a box of mushrooms for another meal. Those are 8 inch cereal bowls, if that helps you judge quantities.
The celery and onions need to sauté with lots of butter or spread, salt, pepper, and garlic powder for about 10 minutes. Then we add the mushrooms.
The massive pile of spread is for liquid. We are going to be adding this and the broth and the potato to the dry stuffing, and then baking that, so we need lots of moisture.
OK, the broth is done. We've mashed and whipped the potatoes with mostly skim milk and a little bit of 2%.
Mix it all up
We are finally getting back to the dry stuffing in the bowl. It's been a while, but there was a coffee break in between and we have been baking a pie, too.
No, we did not make it from scratch. It's an Ever So Humble frozen wild blueberry pie. Put a little spread on it and bake for an hour. Very, very good.
Add the sauted stuff to stuffing (Bells seasoning too) and thoroughly toss and mix.
Ladle in broth to get correct consistency. We used 3 ladles full at a time, toss, check for moistness. We ended using 11 ladles full for this batch; the left over turkey broth is good for soup - put in fridge and skim off fat later.
Fold in the whipped potato. We added a little more after after that picture to get a nice moist stuffing. We will be cooking this mostly covered, but it will lose moisture. Sometimes we have even had to add a little milk, but did not this time.
What's the right consistency? Sticky. Very moist. Remember, this stuff is going to bake in an oven. It is going to dry out.
We are almost done.
Coat the pan with a thin smearing of spread. Put in the stuffing mix, smoothing it out for even fill. We are going to tent it with foil, which will stick and burn right into the stuffing if we don't keep it way, so we use toothpicks as shown.
Bake this at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.
If it is cooked after that (come on, you have to taste it, right?), uncover and move to top rack.
Low Broil on top rack for 8 minutes or till slightly crusty on top.
We're done. It was 40 degrees out, so we put it out on the porch to cool. After that, into the refrigerator until we pack it up tomorrow.
We'll reheat it in the oven there, but you could do it in the microwave too with the right container.
We also made a smaller batch to keep for ourselves - turkey sandwiches and all that.