Making Stuffing from Scratch
November 23, 2011
I don’t always have the day off before Thanksgiving, but this year I do. I am enjoying having an extra day of prep time for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. This morning I made the cranberry sauce, boiled yams for the sweet potato pie that I will bake first thing tomorrow morning (I’ll save the liquid for gravy), and prepared the ingredients for my homemade dressing.
It occurred to me that I’ve never written instructions for making my Thanksgiving stuffing. My daughter sometimes asks me how I make things, such as macaroni and cheese or cream-cheese frosting, for which I don’t use a formal recipe. So this post is for her, for that future date when she makes turkey and dressing.
I often make dressing on Thanksgiving morning while the pie is in the oven, but today I completed several of the steps in advance, leaving just the final assembly and stuffing the turkey for tomorrow. I actually prepare for making my dressing months in advance by saving crusts of bread in the freezer. A day or two before Thanksgiving, I also make corn bread so that I can use the leftovers in my dressing. (This year I put a few cranberries in the cornbread.)
So the first step in making dressing from scratch is to cube the bread:
Next, I dice a couple of sticks of celery and some onion. These will add flavor to the giblet “slurry” which will moisten the breadcrumbs. I toss these vegetables in a pot with the turkey’s heart, liver, and gizzard, then cover with water and boil until the meat is cooked through.
When the giblets are cooked, I pour off and save most of the liquid. I put the cooked vegetables and meat in a food processor and process everything until I have a giblet “slurry.” Then I combine the slurry with the reserved liquid. At this point, I put the slurry into the refrigerator until I assemble the dressing on Thanksgiving morning.
The final steps, on Thanksgiving morning, are to toss the cubed bread, slurry and one egg together in a big bowl. I add salt, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme to taste. I still stuff my turkey, and if I have too much dressing, I put the rest in a pan to heat in the oven with the turkey, an hour or so before it will be done.