Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oven-Baked Bread Stuffing with Sage and Thyme (Thanksgiving 2006)

from Cook's Illustrated November/December 1998

NB 2008: I used my own sprouted wheat bread this year; I added a bit more liquid than the recipe call for. The result was very tasty. My only criticism was that I cooked it about 10 minutes too long. I'll stick with this recipe for next year.

NB 2006: This year I used two bagettes of Bennet Valley French bread (not sour-dough) and I didn't like the dressing; it had a kind of spongy taste and texture. Next year I'm going to try Challah bread with a possible addition of a little Italian bread at the end.

NB 2005: Add more Sage to the stuffing, and don't cook it in too big a glass dish (13 x 9 is too big).

NB 2004: After it was prepared I thought it was a bit too wet, so I added about half a loaf of stale Italian bread and some more rubbed sage. Note that I used thin-sliced white bread for the basic recipe. I thought the end product was excellent and I would definitely make it again. --Pamela

Dry whichever bread you choose by cutting 1/2-inch slices, laying them in a single layer on baking sheets or cooling racks, and leaving them out overnight. The next day, cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes and allow them to dry for another night. If you are in a hurry, rush the process by drying the slices in a 225-degree oven until brittle but not brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Then cut them into cubes and proceed. Any of the stuffings can be cooked inside the holiday bird if you prefer; just reduce stock to 1 cup. Stuff a 12- to 15-pound turkey with 6 cups of stuffing. Then add an additional 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the remaining stuffing and bake it separately in an 8-inch pan.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for baking dish
1 large onion , chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 medium ribs of celery , diced medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 cups dried 1/2-inch cubes from one 1-pound loaf French bread or potato, or challah bread
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 large eggs , beaten lightly
1 teaspoon table salt

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees (350 degrees if using challah). Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until fully melted; pour off 2 tablespoons butter and reserve. Return skillet to heat; add onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme, marjoram, parsley, and black pepper and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Turn onion mixture into large mixing bowl. Add bread cubes, stock, eggs, and salt and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients evenly. Turn mixture into buttered 13-x 9-inch baking dish, drizzle with reserved melted butter, cover tightly with foil, and bake until fragrant, about 25 minutes (30 minutes for challah). Remove foil and bake until golden brown crust forms on top, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish

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