Probably the most beloved and memorable of all holiday side dishes. Stuffing is created from the simplest of ingredients but the taste is as comforting as home. It is one of those dishes where every family has its own special recipe.
The key to a fantastic stuffing is in the bread and the dryness of the bread. Fresh bread cubes that has been dried in the oven is far superior to bagged bread cubes or air dried bread (in my opinion).
For a light stuffing with a moist interior, choose a crusty, not to dense bread, such as a French baguette.
TO OVEN DRY BREAD:
To moisten the
bread, use homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock. You can use a
water or a blend of water and stock, but the stock will produce a much more flavorful stuffing.
These stuffing recipes for a crowd use white bread and cornbread, the basis for all stuffing. Included are variations on flavoring and ingredients.
These recipes will serve 50 quests but can be cut in half to serve 25, or divided by 4 to serve 12.
Bread Stuffing or Dressing with Variations
1 gallon warm water or chicken stock, more or less
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste.
1 tablespoon ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons ground poultry seasoning OR equal amount dried sage or dried poultry seasoning OR 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 pounds dried bread cubes (about 33-35 cups)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sauté onion and celery in butter until lightly browned. Add water or stock and salt, pepper and poultry seasonings. Cook until hot.
Remove from heat and add bread. Toss lightly until thoroughly mixed. Avoid over mixing to prevent soggy, compacted dressing. Stuffing should be moist but not wet. Transfer to greased pans. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Do not overcook.
Sausage: Reduce amount of bread cubes by about 1 cup. Add 2 pounds pork or Italian sausage, cooked and well-drained.
Apple: Reduce amount of bread cubes by about 1 cup. Add 1 pound tart apples, finely chopped, to the bread and liquid mixture
Mushroom: Reduce celery and by about 1 cup each. Sauté 2 pounds fresh mushrooms with the vegetables
Chestnut: Reduce amount of bread cubes by about 1/1/2 cup. Add 1 pound cooked, chopped chestnuts.
Shrimp: Add 1½ pounds slightly cooked and chopped shrimp to the bread and liquid mixture
Oyster: Add 1½ pounds finely chopped fresh oysters to the bread and liquid mixture
Fruit and Nut: Add 1 pound raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots or prunes or a combination and; 2 cups chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds to the bread and liquid mixture. Toast the nuts in a 325F oven for 5-10 minutes
Makes approximately 2 13" x 9" x 2" pans.
About 1/2 cup serving size
24 cups dried cornbread cubes
8 cups dried bread cubes
2½ - 3 cups chopped onions, about 1 pound
3 cups chopped celery, about 1 pound
1 stick butter
3 quarts hot water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt,or to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Hot red pepper to taste
1 tablespoons ground poultry seasoning
Preheat oven to 375° F. Sauté onion and celery in butter until lightly browned. Add water or stock and salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook until hot.
Remove from heat and add cornbread and bread cubes. Toss lightly until thoroughly mixed. Avoid over mixing to prevent soggy, compacted dressing.
Stuffing should be moist but not wet. Transfer to greased pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until heated through. Do not overcook.
Sausage: Reduce amount of bread cubes by about 1 cup. Add 2 pounds pork sausage, cooked and well-drained.
Bacon: Cook 1 pound of bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain well and crumble. Add to stuffing mixture. Reduce butter in recipe by 1-tablespoons and add about 4 tablespoons bacon fat to cook onions and celery
Southwestern: Reduce onion and celery by 1 cup each. Add 1 cup diced red pepper, 1 cup diced green pepper and 3-4 tablespoons (or to taste), chopped fresh jalapeño pepper to the onion and celery sauté. Add 1½ pounds chopped chorizo or ground pork, cooked and well-drained. Add 1/2 tablespoon or more ground cumin (optional).
Pecan: Add about 2 cups roasted and coarsely chopped pecans
Chorizo, Cherry and Pecan Cornbread Stuffing
Stuffing can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided, plus more
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dried tart cherries
10 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, dried out overnight
⅓ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound fresh chorizo, casings removed
2 medium onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 large eggs
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a shallow 3-qt. baking dish and a sheet of foil. Bring vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and add cherries. Let sit until cherries are plump, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread out cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool. Place in a very large bowl. Drain cherries, reserving soaking liquid, and add cherries to bowl with cornbread (do not mix).
Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Toast pecans on a clean rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant, 8–10 minutes. Add to bowl.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook chorizo, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with a slotted spoon. Add onions and celery to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10–12 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved cherry soaking liquid in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup butter; cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture.
Whisk eggs and 2 cups stock in a medium bowl; pour over cornbread mixture. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed (you may not use it all), until combined and cornbread is hydrated. Mix carefully to avoid breaking cornbread into crumbs. Transfer to prepared dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup butter.
Cover with buttered foil; bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe thanks to Bon Appetit