Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. There are no external expectations on Thanksgiving – the only gift that is required is the gift of companionship. I love the chance to have family and friends seated at the various tables set up throughout the house, enjoying each other’s company, catching up on family events, and telling stories, all while sharing a wonderful meal together.
As a teenager, my job was to help prepare the waldorf salad. I remember sitting at the table and cutting each grape in half to remove the seeds – yes, these were the days before seedless grapes. Not the best of jobs, but it allowed me to sit and watch my parents as they prepared the perfect stuffing recipe. I will never forget that delicious smell as they opened the crock pot to adjust the spice levels to make it ‘just right’. My mouth began to water as I watched my Dad take a bite (or two), to make sure it was perfect. I had to wait my turn until the meal was served at the table, but it was well worth the wait.
I didn’t realize until my adult years how wonderful this recipe was. When talking with others about a traditional Thanksgiving meal, many people would mention that they weren’t fond of stuffing. “How could you not like it?” was always my response. However, as the years passed and I was exposed to other stuffing recipes, I understood. Some recipes are more on the dry side, and some are moist and mushy. There was nothing that compared to Mom and Dad’s recipe! So when my parents began to downsize – I was honored to receive the large stainless bowl that was brought out each November, for the sole purpose of the stuffing to be prepared.
So it is time to pull out that bowl once again, and share the recipe that helped make Thanksgiving so special to me.
Classic Stuffing Recipe
12 cups of soft bread cubes (about 18 slices of bread)
1 cup unsalted butter
3 large stalks of celery (1 1/2 cup chopped)
1 large onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
Additional chicken (or vegetable) stock – as needed (click here to see how to make your own stock)
1. In a large bowl, tear bread into small cubed pieces.
*I do this step a couple of hours or the night before I am ready to make the stuffing- cover the bowl with a towel which allows the bread to dry out a bit.
2. In a large skillet, heat butter on medium heat until melted.
3. Add celery and onion – cook until tender.
4. Add salt, pepper, and sage – cook an additional 3 minutes.
5. Add 1/3 of mixture to bread cubes. Toss lightly to coat. Repeat until butter mixture is gone. Add additional stock for moisture based on your preference. (If you like dry stuffing, add little to no stock, however, for moister stuffing, add stock by slowly pouring it in the bowl while fluffing the bread with a fork. Use just enough to lightly moisten the bread cubes.)
6. Place in crock pot and cook on low until heated through (approximately 6 hours). Add additional stock as needed for moisture.
**You can bake the stuffing separately in a 13×9-inch baking dish at 325°F for about 45 minutes. Cover with foil for the first 30 minutes – add drippings from turkey or stock for moisture as needed.
Mary and Jim