Saturday, November 22, 2014

Most Favorite Food

I am a bread foodie. Love bread; love to make it and eat it buttered and still hot from the oven when the bread aroma still lingers in the air. Loaves of French, sourdough, rye, honey whole wheat, rolls, biscuits, whatever, I make them all. It often surprises me to realize my sourdough starter is now older than most of my college students. Besides toast and sandwiches, bread is cut up into cubes to make croutons for salad and casserole toppings, but the best use of bread cubes is for making stuffing and bread pudding. To me they are synonymous, stuffing being the savory version and bread pudding the sweet.

My Dad became a home baker in his forties, and I use his French bread recipe which makes great loaves from four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. However, one of my oldest memories is of my Mom making Thanksgiving stuffing for the family's turkey. She was very intense in each step of her work. I remember watching her melt the butter and sautéing the celery and onions, salt, pepper, and herbs before pouring it all into a huge oblong pan. She then added the bread cubes, poured a cup or so of hot water onto the bread, and mixed it with her hands until it was the right consistency before she shoved it into the turkey's back end.

I've loved stuffing ever since. The taste of roasted celery, onion, turkey, and bread is good plain and warm, covered with gravy, or cold from the refrigerator. Maybe especially cold as the celery taste seems more intense. I make mine a little differently, using homemade bread and moistening it with chicken stock instead of water, but the celery, onion, and spices remain the same. I don't stuff the turkey either, but cut it into pieces and place them on top of the stuffing in an ancient roaster. Yum. I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Stuffing is high calorie, so it's a good thing I have it only once a year.

So here's the recipe, but this may be superfluous as I think most families already have their own favorite:  Melt 1 to 1 ½ sticks of butter, add 1 large onion chopped into small pieces, 2 to 3 stalks of celery sliced crosswise, with ¼ to ½ tsp thyme, if desired, ¼ to ½ tsp sage, ¼ to ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add 9 to 10 cups of dry (stale), cubed French bread and 1 cup of turkey or chicken broth. You can make a cup of turkey broth by simmering the turkey's liver, heart, and gizzard for twenty minutes. Use the salt in the liquid and omit from the dressing. The heart and gizzard can be chopped up and added to the dressing if desired. Jerusalem artichokes (I planted some this fall) are also good chopped up and added when sautéing the vegetables. This recipe is good for a 10 to 12-pound turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more on favorite foods check out the blog postings of the following authors:

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor 
Ginger Simpson
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosnski
Anne Stenhouse 
Heidi M. Thomas
Helena Fairfax 
Kay Sisk
Connie Vines 


  1. I love stuffing, too, Rhobin, and I use a very similar recipe to your mum's. Great post!

  2. Turkey and trimmings are coming up a lot. My children used to love trimmings - reason the Christmas cake always seemed to last months longer than its marzipan and icing! anne stenhouse

  3. Some of my favorite memories growing up are of attacking your bread hot out of oven. Love this!

  4. I envy your skill at bread making! I've tried on numerous occasions and never got it right. But walking past a bakery is as difficult as walking past a coffee roasting house!

  5. Nothing quite like home made bread fresh from the oven. I was a stay at home mom when my kids were little and baked all our own bread = four loaves at a time, but I timed it so they would come out of the oven just as the kids got in from elementary school and there would only be three left by supper time.

  6. I remember my mom making stuffing like that too! And home-made bread! Mmmm!

  7. My stuffing recipe is also similar to yours, but not fresh bread. I love fresh bread, right of the oven, warm bread, with melted butter - I could eat the whole loaf so unfortunately I don't eat a lot of bread.

  8. Years ago, the New York Times published the best stuffing recipe ever, but it calls for meat, so I make a Pennsylvania Dutch stuffing with mashed potatoes and bread, a carb lovers dream, with celery and onion, herbs and lots of salt and pepper. I've been baking a bread made in the food processor and it's pretty decent. Cheers!

  9. I start out my bread in the bread machine, only to "dough" setting. Then when it's done doing all of the hard work and the first rising, then I punch it back down, and separate it into 2 balls, then shape them into loaves and put them into 2 loaf pans. I let them rise again on top of the oven for an hour, then bake them in my conventional oven for 30 minutes. That way they don't have that "weird" bread-machine shape that never cuts evenly.

    Have you ever heard of that stuffing recipe with White Castle burgers, only you pull off the pickles? My family laughs about that every year. No, we've never made it, nor will we ever. But it's surprising what some folks will stuff inside of their turkeys!