The sense of smell carries the ability to transport us back in time. Comfort and happiness can be triggered by scents. On the Thanksgivings when I serve as chef, I find my mind and spirit back in my Mom’s kitchen, watching her make giblet gravy before placing the big bird in front of my Grandma, who ran the annual carving station. Nothing can transport me back to those days of yore faster than the aroma of my Mom’s turkey dressing. It tastes good too, earning 5-star ratings from even the pickiest of family eaters. It’s not a healthy recipe, but on special days it can pay to throw a little caution to the winds. We can always use a little help from Mom with dressing.
Purists can toast their own bread, but those in more of a hurry should feel free to use store-bought bags of stuffing cubes. When using fresh bread, select types with flavors that appeal to you. I like cibatta for it’s density and flavor, and challah for it’s rich and creamy taste. I like to mix both breads in one batch of stuffing. I do not recommend stuffing a bird with this dressing, since it contains raw egg, and will cook unevenly in the cavities. The chicken stock will give it sufficient flavor; and if you make turkey gravy, diners may douse their dressing with a healthy dose.
Good As Grandma’s Dressing
1 lb. of rich Bread, crusts left on, cut into ½” cubes (or store-bought cubed dressing)
1 large, Sweet Onion, chopped
3 C Water
3 T fresh Sage, minced
2 t ground Thyme
2 t Sweet Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
1.5 sticks (3/4 C) Butter, melted
1 well-beaten Egg
1 to 1.5 C Chicken Stock
Large Mixing Bowl
Fine Mesh Strainer
3-quart Covered Casserole
Heat oven to 425°.
Place bread on cookie sheet and toast, turning regularly until all sides are lightly browned and crunchy, about 10 minutes.
Remove bread cubes to mixing bowl.
Reduce heat to 350°.
Bring water to boil in saucepan.
Add onions and reduce heat to simmer.
Cook onions for 5 minutes to soften and remove sting.
Strain and place in bowl with bread.
Blend in sage, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Evenly coat cubes with the spices.
Pour melted butter over cubes and coat them all.
Stir in chicken broth until mixture is softened, but not soggy.
Pour beaten egg into mixture, and blend in evenly.
Place mixture in covered casserole leaving it loose—do not pack it down—and bake for 1 hour.
Remove from oven and serve.
Your kitchen will smell wonderful, and your tummy will give thanks. Let me know how you like the dressing.