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11/26/2014

~ Basic, Moist & Classic: Soft White Bread Stuffing ~

IMG_8472This is the stuffing that takes us back to the beginning.  Grandma ripped up some stale bread then tossed in some sauteed celery and onion seasoned with salt, pepper, and perhaps an herb or two.  Once she mixed those together, she slowly added some turkey stock, just enough to make the mixture really moist without any liquid puddling in the bottom of the bowl.  Sometimes she added a lightly-beaten egg too.  "Back in the day", oven space in the home kitchen was almost always limited, so, stuffing was almost always baked inside the bird -- a smart way to get an extra side-dish without taking up any precious space.  This method also kept Grandma's stuffing super-moist with an almost steamed, pudding-like texture.  When stuffing is baked in a casserole (not in the bird), the technical term for it may be "dressing", but,  I loved "the stuff":

IMG_8499Recipes did vary slightly, depending upon where you grew up and in what time period ('30's, '40's, 50's and early '60's), but, not much.  To my recollection, stuffing remained simple and uncomplicated right up until Mrs. John F. Kennedy put a French chef in charge of the White House kitchen.  Every woman in America wanted to be like Jackie, and that included stirring a "gourmet" ingredient or two into the pot of everything we cooked.  Stuffing was no exception.

IMG_8574I found myself evesdropping on a conversation on Monday while shopping for small, Dutch ovens. On the other side of the open shelves, two sisters were discussing whether one should invest in an All-Clad roasting pan. At checkout, their conversation turned to "where to find a recipe for the soft white bread stuffing mom always made for us".  This recipe is for my two new KE readers!   

29903001  stick salted butter 

1 1/2  cups diced celery

1 1/2  cups diced yellow onion

1/4  cup dried parsley flakes

1  teaspoon Bell's poultry seasoning

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

8  cups potato bread, 4-5 days old, cut into 1" cubes (10 slices bread)

1 1/4  cups turkey or chicken stock

1  jumbo egg, lightly beaten

IMG_8401~ Step 1.  Dice the celery and onion as directed.  Set aside.

IMG_8410In a 12" skillet, melt the butter over low heat.  Add and stir the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper into the butter.  Add the celery and onion and stir until vegetables are evenly coated in the butter/spice mixture.

IMG_8420 IMG_8413~ Step 2. Increase heat to medium and saute until vegetables are tender but still a bit crunchy, about 5-6 minutes.

Turn heat off.  Stir in the parsley flakes.  Set aside to cool a bit.  Feel free to add fresh minced parsley in place of dried, but my grandmother dried her own and used it.

IMG_8436 IMG_8433~ Step 3. While the vegetables are cooling a bit, cube the bread as directed, placing it in a large bowl as you work.

Using a large spoon or spatula, add and stir the vegetable mixture into the bread cubes.  

Allow mixture to rest about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to give bread time to absorb moisture.

IMG_8438~ Step 4.  Stir in the chicken stock a bit at a time, stirring and resting a bit after each addition, 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup, then the last 1/4 cup.  Bread should be very moist with no liquid puddling in the bottom of the bowl.

IMG_8443Using a fork, beat the egg and stir it in. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Stir again.

IMG_8462 IMG_8455~ Step 5. Spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole or 8" x  8" x 2" baking dish with no stick spray.

Lightly spoon mixture evenly into bottom of prepared casserole.  Do not dump it it, spread it around or press it down.  Keep it light.

IMG_8469~ Step 6.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake on center rack of preheated 325 degree oven 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Do not overbake this stuffing or it will dry out.  

Remove from oven and set aside to rest about 10-30 minutes prior to serving hot or warm:

IMG_8505Just like Grandma (or Mom) used to make:

IMG_8525Basic, Moist & Classic:  Soft White Bread Stuffing:  Recipe yields 6 cups or 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 12" skillet; 1-cup measuring container; fork; large spoon or spatula; 1 1/2-quart casserole or 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish; aluminum foil

IMG_7377Cook's Note: I use Bell's poultry seasoning to make this stuffing recipe.  Feel free to substitute your family's favorite brand, but, to learn more about Bell's (and poultry seasoning in general), read my post ~ So what exactly is in Poultry Seasoning?  Poultry? ~ in Categories 8, 15, 16 & 18!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

Comments

Thanks Rose Marie -- I ended up chatting with Susan and Ann for almost a half hour after we checked out. It turns out their mother was raised in Eastern PA close to my hometown. One never knows who one will meet on any given day!

Very nice Melanie.

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