Thursday, November 22, 2012

it's Thanksgiving: family stuffing recipe

Thanksgiving is here!  Still can't believe it's November let alone Thanksgiving, but here we are so let's get to the grocery and start cooking.  My gracious mother in law is hosting this year, so I'm only responsible for three vegetable dishes.  Sara is home for a nice long break, but Kelly is spending the holiday in the land of sunshine, palm trees, mountains and the ocean.  We'll skype her in today and see how she does making my family's version of stuffing for her LA friends.  My dad is in charge of the stuffing back in Chagrin Falls and his version is so moist and amazing because he uses raw pork sausage and eggs mixed in with the usual suspects of celery, onion, bread cubes, butter, broth and seasonings.  He even tastes for seasoning with the raw egg and sausage in there and lives to tell about it.  I can't do it and I can't recommend you do it either but he's been mixing it up without consequence for a good 50 years.

Have a happy holiday!  So much to be thankful for as always.  Live in gratitude.  That's the yoga (and truthfully, the church in me) talking, but Oprah had it right when she told us to start a gratitude journal all those years ago.  I remember mine sitting by my nightstand the years we were doing all the moving. The girls were in their early school years and about every 12-18 months off we would go.  So stressful, but so much a part of our family story.  Every move they were each other's best friends for a while until they met new friends at school and in the neighborhood.  Every move we just had each other to keep us entertained and in a way it was really wonderful to have no where to go and nothing to do.  But then life just expands and we are all so thankful for all the amazing friends we have added to the fold along the way.  And of course we are thankful for our families, the constants in our crazy lives.  That is all.

Bread note:  this year I used some amazing stuffing bread from Costco that was highly seasoned and beautifully browned (like very delicious big croutons), so I did not add poultry seasoning and sage.  If you are using fresh bread, cut it into cubes and dry on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven for an hour or so.  My mom always tore the bread the night before, heated the oven to 350, put the bread in the oven and turned it off and overnight it dried out nicely.

family stuffing

one pound breakfast sausage (sage is key)
4T butter (I use 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil to saute and stir in remaining softened butter with the stuffing)
2 C chopped onion
2 C chopped celery
6 C cubed Italian/french bread, dried (or use stuffing bread cubes sold in a bag but get some interesting ones with ciabatta or herbs or whatever looks really good)
1 egg
2 tsp poultry seasoning (do not use if using highly seasoned stuffing bread)
1 tsp dried sage or 1 T chopped fresh sage (same goes for the sage)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2-4 C chicken broth

Spray or butter a 9x13x2 dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the sausage breaking it up and stirring frequently until cooked through, but not browned.  Line a plate or bowl with paper towels and pour sausage onto the towels to drain.  Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and melt the 4 T butter (or the 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter) over medium low heat.  Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently until softened but not browned, about 5-7 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes with the seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. Add the onions, celery and sausage.  Beat the egg lightly and mix in with the broth starting at 2 cups. If you reserved butter when you were sauteeing the vegetables, stir it in now too.  Add more if you like moister stuffing, but toss lightly so the bread is still more or less in tact.  Pack stuffing into baking dish and cover tightly with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes to brown up the top.


This post is already a day or two late for this Thanksgiving and now I have some sort of photo storage glitch with google, so I will l just promise you pictures after I run this through my in-house IT manager, Sara.

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