Monday, November 24, 2008

The Stuff(ing) of Legend

A friend of mine baked her first turkey over the weekend (celebrating Thanksgiving) and here's part of a letter I sent her, including a recipe that's dear to me:

"The sheer size of the turkey, I think, intimidates the would-be cook, but actually there's nothing more to it than spicing the boy and shoving him into the oven for the proper period of time (20 minutes per pound, 350 degrees).

"I have a friend who heavily salts a turkey and bakes it for a minute a pound. The salt seals in both the heat and the juices and the turkey is superb, but I can't do that because salt and I don't mix. Another friend deep-fries his turkey--again, juices sealed in--but you have to have a monster fryer and what in the world would one do with the leftover oil? Environmental hazard that the EPA, under anybody but George Bush, would have a cow over. Bush would have it poured over the bushes.

"Now, my recipe for "dressing" (which is what we called stuffing when I was growing up):


"Bake a 12-inch iron skillet of cornbread (unsweetened, recipe on the corn meal bag), let it cool and crumble it into a bowl. Chop about 1/2 pound of whole wheat bread (multi-grain is fine, too) finely and combine it with the cornbread.

"Boil the giblets from the inside of your turkey in four cups of water.

"Coarsely chop several stalks of celery (remember, this stuff is powerful and can overwhelm any dish) and a medium onion and throw that into the pile. Mix in two eggs, a tablespoon oregano and 1/4 cup of sugar (you can use honey, molasses, brown sugar or splenda in very moderate amount).

"Pour the broth from the giblets into the mix and stir it until it is slightly less than soupy. Re-use the same skillet you baked the cornbread in (this will overfill the pan, so use two if you want; I grew up in a big family and don't know how to cook little) to bake the dressing. Grease it slightly with canola oil and bake this at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Let it cool and serve it with turkey, cranberry sauce and all the other T'giving goodies. I don't like stuffing it into the turkey to cook it, but you can if you want. Simply stuff the bird instead of baking it in the iron skillet.

"It's good stuff(ing), baby, so enjoy."

(By the way, your dressing won't look like the one pictured here; it's flat and in a pan. But this is the best picture I could find without cooking the dressing four days ahead of time.)

(My pal Lori wrote this: "Just thought I'd tell you that I tried your stuffing for Thanksgiving. Had to wrestle Mom, because she tries to make Grandma's stuffing [fairly difficult; no recipe]. Didn't have a whole wheat bread, so i subbed some Pep Farms stuffing mix, and still turned out fabulous. lots of compliments I/you were the reigning Stuffing Queen. The sweetness of the corn bread and the sugar, I think, is what makes it. Very yummy.)

1 comment:

  1. This is without a doubt the very best dressing EVER!!! Just like Daddy used to make.

    Jennie Smith (Dan's Daughter)