Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Stuffing You'll Ever Have - Ever

Remember this post and how I sort of promised to post the recipes, well many days later, I finally got the energy to put together the stuffing recipe. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, if you haven't checked it out then you should.*

Classic Bread Stuffing with Sage and Thyme


Note: the ingredients I'm listing is for a 10 x15 baking dish, I halved the recipe and used a 9x13 pan (as suggested by the recipe). Also if you are not going to make homemade bread cubes you'll need to increase the chicken broth to 7 cups.

12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
4 ribs of celery, chopped fine
2 onions, minced
1/2 cup mince fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minces fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
3 pounds high-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and dried
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I am allergic to chicken so I used No Chicken Broth, tastes like chicken
   broth but only uses veggies, have no idea how they do that)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper

There were also variations of this stuffing recipe, so I made one of those, called

Bread Stuffing with Bacon and Apples
You'll also need:
1.5 pounds of bacon, chopped fine 
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (2 cups)

Don't let all the ingredients scare you, it's really not that hard.

Let's get this party started:

Step1 : Set oven to 400°

Adjust oven rack to the middle position

Step 2: Let's make some bread cubes!

Like it said, use high quality bread, no wonder bread for this recipe. I actually went to the bakery part of the store, instead of the bread isle, and bought a white bread that basically had 5 or so ingredients, none of it were preservatives.

If you plan ahead you can cut the bread up and then leave out for a few days to become stale. Otherwise, spread them out on a baking sheet and dry in a 300° oven for 30-60 minutes. Let cool before using in recipe.

Step 2: Cook Bacon

This is where you would melt butter in skillet but if you are doing the bacon version skip the butter part, I cut up the bacon (even though I was halving it, I used a pound of bacon, the more bacon the merrier right?) and cooked it. While the bacon is cooking, cut up the celery, onion and apple.

 removed and put on paper towel lined plate. Instead of using butter, I just used all of the bacon fat, yep I used all of it. In the recipe it says to use the fat and then add more butter, but I didn't since I can't eat butter, and it worked out ok.

Step 3: Add Celery, Onion and Apple

Add the celery, onion and apple to the bacon fat, doesn't that sound delish? Cook until softened, 10-15 minutes

Step 4:  Stir in the bacon, sage, thyme, marjoram and parsley until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to very large bowl.

Step 5: Add dried bread cubes, broth, eggs, salt and pepper

Okay so remember how I told you that I was halving the recipe? Well I spaced out and totally forgot this fact, and didn't halve the eggs, so I actually ended up using 4 eggs instead of 2. The result of the stuffing was absolute perfection, chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. We're not sure if the extra eggs had anything to do with this, so you can make up your own mind on that one.

Toss to combine

Step 6: Put in buttered (in my case, olive oiled) dish and cover with foil and back for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

Since I was currently cooking my turkey, I put this in about 30 minutes before the turkey was going to be finished, then when the turkey came out and was resting, I uncovered the stuffing and continued to cook.

And you're done! Our guest showed up before I was done, and I forgot to keep taking pictures, so I took a picture of the partially eaten stuffing. In the picture and in real life it looked burnt, but in no means was it burnt, just crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. I'd rather get a F for presentation and an A+ for taste, then the other way around.

I would also like to add that I was worried about the whole apple thing in the stuffing, but you could not taste it at all. I think the apple was what was helping to give the stuffing the chewy texture? When I picked out an apple to see, it was just chewy and tasted like stuffing then apple.

Okay now you're set for making the most awesome stuffing ever! If I make this again and have a better picture to show you, I'll re-post.

* background: America's Test Kitchen is on PBS and they take a recipe and make the crap out of it, in every different way possible until they figure out the best way to cook it, slice it and dice it. They have a magazine you can subscribe to called Cooks Illustrated, you've probably seen it at the check out line at William Sonoma. Anyway, it's an amazing magazine, it goes through what steps they did to get the recipe, so you know the exact process about how they decided to cook something with 4 cups and 2 tablespoons of chicken broth instead of just 4 cups. (I was not paid to write this, just something that I use on an everyday basis and love EVERY single recipe I've made from it, always my go to cookbook)

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