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Thanksgiving Stuffing

Yes, I talk a lot about making pot pies for Thanksgiving instead of turkey and eschewing pumpkin pie for cherry-cranberry pie.

So you might come to the conclusion that I’m the Che Guevara of the turkey set, hell-bent on overthrowing the traditional Thanksgiving menu and installing my own regime.

Not completely true.

Thanksgiving stuffing
Photo: Casey Barber

I’ll mix up the menu with various vegetable side dishes, give my turkey brine a tweak every few years, and even allow both mashed potatoes and potato gratin Dauphinois to simultaneously grace the table,

But there’s one dish that remains the same no matter what else is on the sideboard.

Obviously, it’s Thanksgiving stuffing.

thanksgiving stuffing

Oddly enough, even though one half of my family were reserved Lutherans and the other half were crazy Italians, there was never a turf war on the Thanksgiving stuffing front.

No sausage, no oysters, no mushrooms, no cornbread, no frou-frou—this was the Way It Was Made.

When it came time for my first impromptu post-college Thanksgiving—you know, the one where you and a few friends decide you’re going to recreate all your childhood favorites and end up roasting the turkey in one of those disposable oven pans—I scribbled the recipe down from my stepmom.

Then I promptly lost the butter-stained piece of paper in a series of apartment moves.

Thanksgiving stuffing
Photo: Casey Barber

Fast forward to the Real Thanksgiving set in my Real Home in 2007, when I started pulling together my first attempt at the Thanksgiving timeline only to realize the secret stuffing recipe was missing.

Now a much more proficient cook and too embarrassed to admit to the family that I couldn’t remember how to make our stuffing, I turned in a panic to Epicurious.

Oh god. My family heirloom stuffing is basically torn from the pages of Bon Appetit.

Talk about embarrassing. What I had thought was a recipe passed down through generations is pretty much the most basic stuffing preparation on the planet.

Thanksgiving stuffing
Photo: Casey Barber

I think even the Mayflower crew was like, “oh, that old thing? Can’t we spice it up with a few swans and eagles?”

Oh well. With all the bells and whistles going on at my table, it’s good to have something simple

This stuffing is a comforting option to counteract the amuse-bouches and determinedly anti-pumpkin pies I throw at my dinner guests each year.

I’ve tweaked the recipe to reflect my obsession with sage and my family’s tendency to over-pepper everything (it ain’t stuffing at the Barber table until your tongue tingles).

But it is still a very straightforward Thanksgiving stuffing.

thanksgiving stuffing

Every year I look at it and think about changing it. But when I dump that pile of onions and celery into a huge pan of melted butter and the aroma wafts through the house, I remember why I keep it as is.

And though I’ve been known to make this stuffing in the middle of summer when I get the craving, for it truly is one of my favorite comfort foods along with pork and sauerkraut, there’s no excuse not to have it on your Thanksgiving table.

Feel free to adopt it as your own!

Thanksgiving stuffing

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Thanksgiving stuffing can be prepared many ways, but this version with celery, onion, and butter is simple but classic. It's always welcome at the holiday table.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 6 celery stalks, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 loaf ciabatta or other crusty Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onions, celery, and salt and cook until the veggies are very soft and translucent—go all the way to 10-15 minutes letting them soften. But don't let them brown if you can manage it; you want your veg to be luxuriously bathing in butter.
  4. Add the black pepper, sage and parsley, cook for a minute more, then transfer to a very large bowl and let cool until no longer hot to the touch.
  5. While the veggies are resting, spread the bread cubes evenly across 2 rimmed baking sheets and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, enough to get a good edge on them but not long enough to brown them or turn them into croutons.
  6. Add the toasted bread cubes to the vegetables and mix to blend.
  7. Add the egg to the stuffing mixture, then stir in the broth a quarter cup at a time to allow the bread to evenly absorb the liquid. You may need to add more broth if it's looking too dry, but don't make it soggy.
  8. Pour the stuffing into a deep 9x13-inch baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until crispy and browned on top.
  9. Needless to say, this makes great leftovers if you don't eat the whole pan immediately.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 666mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 7g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m not on stuffing duty this year, but I’ll pass this on to the family members who are; sounds really yummy!

  2. I plan on whipping this up for Thanksgiving in London and bringing your recipe to the Brits! Can’t wait.

  3. Yum! This is very similar to how I make stuffing, but I never thought to put the veggies in the fridge. I’ll give that a try next time. Stuffing is my favorite part of the meal — I think. Right now I have turkey parts roasting for stock for gravy so it’s all I’m smelling and at this moment turkey is my favorite, but I’m sure it’s really stuffing that I love. :)

  4. We always put our the stuffing in the turkey. We feel that it gives it more flavor, with all the turkey juices. As long as it is at the right temperature, you don’t have to worry about salmonella [raw eggs].

  5. I never understood why my husband insists on mashed potatoes when stuffing is really the only starch we need. Mine has loads of mushrooms and egg bread – it’s an old Bon Appetit recipe that works every time.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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