One of the things I love about fall and winter is being able to use my oven more. Stuffing a bird is one of my favorite things to do, and it isn’t hard. Buying a turkey is inexpensive, and you can do so much with the leftovers.
I’ve told you all the story of my mother’s stuffing, and I’m sharing it again today because I like telling it.
This is actually based on my mother’s recipe for stuffing. We all loved it, and for every holiday that a turkey was stuffed and every special weeknight meal that my mother cooked a big roasting chicken, she always made this stuffing. I remember one year my father begged her to make something different. He wanted chestnut stuffing. All I have to say is, it was a darned good thing that he liked it because none of us kids ate more than one bite of it. Being that we were such whiners, Mom never strayed again.
My mom never used a recipe either. Unless she was baking or trying a new recipe, everything was in her head, just like I cook today. I must have been in my late twenties or early thirties and had my own family to feed when I asked for her recipe. I made her think; and think hard. “Come on, Mom. Just guess. Give me an idea. How much bread? How much sausage? How much onion? One egg? Or two?” I’m telling you, it went on for an hour. I knew I was driving her crazy and I didn’t care. I had to have it! (Served her right, and that’s what she gets for not writing it down. Ha ha).
The following ingredients will easily fill an average sized turkey. Remember that I’ve been making this for many years and never use a recipe. I might have misfiled it, but I can’t find the one that I begged off my mother. All the ingredients are according to our likes. You may want a little more of this and a little less of that. Until you put the eggs in it, go ahead and taste it if you want. Everything is cooked. See if you need more sage or more pepper . . ok, hushing up now.
INGREDIENTS: Makes enough for up to a 12 -15 lb bird.
½ lb Jimmy Dean sausage (I love sage flavor)
1 large celery rib, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
4 TBSP butter
4+/- cups cubed stale bread (use Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing mix)
½ – ¾ can chicken broth
½ cup milk
1 tsp each sage, onion powder, garlic powder
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
One of the reasons I insist on Jimmy Dean sausage is because it is such a good quality product. There is such a small amount of grease after frying it, that I often brown the sausage at the same time in the same pan with the celery and onion.
In a 10” or 12” skillet over medium heat, put the sausage in and begin breaking it up into small chunks with a heavy spoon. Add the butter, celery and onion any time and cook until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.
In a large bowl, tear up the bread (I used to help my mother with this. When we were kids, Janie and I had no interest in cooking, but we did have to help if there was grunt work to be done).
If I don’t have stale bread on hand, I’ll use fresh bread and break it up early in the day. I’d stir it around every half hour or so and its fine. I always try to use both white and wheat bread.
Add the seasonings and stir to incorporate. (If you want to taste the seasonings, now is the time to do it). Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Whip them around a bit with your spoon. Kinda fun, eh? Add the chicken broth and stir. I would say add just ¼ cup of the milk now and see how it looks/feels. You don’t want it too wet, but you don’t want it dry, either.
Wash the bird inside and out. Make sure you remove the giblets! Check all orifices because sometimes they hide them on you. I always simmer the giblets in chicken broth and add it to the drippings after the bird is done. It makes great gravy.
Say, “Open wide.” and stuff the bird. Remember to stuff the neck cavity also. Don’t pack it real tight because you want the eggs to cook. I have never trussed a bird, and I never will. My mother used to do it and it looked like too much work. I take the heel of a loaf of bread and tuck it in the rear and neck openings. Works every time. Whatever doesn’t fit in the bird, place in a casserole dish and cover it with foil. Throw it in the oven about 30 minutes before the bird is done.
Smear some butter on all surfaces of the bird. Pour a can of chicken broth over the turkey, and then season well with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning. Tent with foil and put it in the oven. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for time and temperature. I usually baste the bird every 45 minutes or so with the juices in the bottom of the pan. Use this later for gravy along with the giblet liquid).
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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2016