Stuffing Recipe – Thanksgiving 2009

Stuffing has got to be my favorite Thanksgiving food.  I remember Thanksgivings past where my dad & I would fight over the stuffing bowl like it was filled with gold, diamonds, and (for me) guitars.  The stuff is perfect.  Alone, with turkey, with gravy… the decadent amount of carbs is ridiculously awesome.

Last year was my first ever attempt at making stuffing… and my grandma told me that it tasted just like hers.  Is there a compliment better than that?  I had used as a guide an old recipe that my grandfather & grandmother had both used when making holiday meals.  My mom lent me the old cook book with my grandfather’s notes last year, I collected some others, and I made scans for myself.

I say “guide” because it’s not always an exact science when doubling/tripling recipes… and there really aren’t any cooking directions… it’s just a guide to make the stuff.  Also, I tend to do a lot of “oh, that looks about right” and a little bit of “hey, let’s add a little of this” in the kitchen, as most people comfortable there usually do.

A lot of times I see stuffing recipes online, on TV, or in the little books by the cash register at the grocery store… and they include sausage, apples, raisins, (yuck!) nuts, or even peppers, carrots, or mushrooms (all of the latter of which I’ like to try some time).  The philosophy behind this recipe seems to be a K.I.S.S. one.  I like that.  It’s a very simple accompaniment, and the taste that my mind goes to every time I think “stuffing”.

This year, it was definitely a two person effort.  I don’t know how I would have done it without Bethany and all four of our hands.  We made a lot of stuffing.  Sadly, I didn’t think to chronicle the thing with photos like I sometimes do with new recipes… but I did want to make a guide with my own notes, so when I do this next year, I remember what I did differently this year.  I know I altered things slightly last year, but the details were a little fuzzy.  I figured that if I’m going to do it for myself, I might as well share, right?  Plus, we got compliments from two moms, two grandmas, and an aunt… all excellent in the kitchen themselves!

I did take a photo today, because really, what’s a food blog post without a photo?  Perhaps I’ll see if my mom got any with her camera and amend the post later.

Thanksgiving Stuffing 2009
This year’s effort was delicious, if I do say so myself.

This is my first time really writing out a recipe… so pardon me if it’s a little convoluted or long winded.  I don’t want to miss anything, and I hope to get it all in the right order as well as make it an entertaining read.

Here’s what you’ll need to do it the same way I did…

Food:

  • 5 loaves of bread (equaled 56 cups once cubed)
  • 1 bundle of celery (3 cups, chopped – the rest can cook w/ the turkey or be a snack)
  • 2 Spanish or Sweet onions
  • The giblets & neck out of your turkey.
  • 1 can (14½ oz.) vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoons of salt
  • ½ tablesppon Season All Seasoned Salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sage
  • 1 heaping teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 10 eggs
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) butter
  • some water
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 bottle of Yuengling

Stuff:

  • 2 cookie sheets
  • cutting boards
  • small pot
  • electric skillet
  • Magic Bullet®
  • electric roaster
  • large crock pot
  • knives
  • a few large bowls
  • whisk
  • spatula
  • several large spoons
  • paper towels

OK, on to the directions…

  1. Monday night, get your loaves of bread, open the bags, and put the loaves on cookie sheets before dinner.  Leave ‘em out on a table or counter while you do your thing.
  2. Right before your favorite prime time TV shows come on, set up a station on the coffee table in front of the couch with the cookie trays of bread, some cutting boards with knives, and the pans out of your electric roaster.  Cube the bread and fill the roasting pan.  When I say fill it, I mean fill it.  It will be ridiculously full.
  3. Cover it with paper towels, and set it on the kitchen table that you only use when company comes over anyway.  Over the next few days, stir it a few times a day, whenever you think of it.  This will get it nicely & slightly stale.  If you’re going to be doing anything that smells, like using cleaning chemicals, put it in the oven… but don’t turn it on.  It’s nice & warm & dry & not stinky in there.  The bread will absorb that stuff and the stuffing will taste like Mr. Clean made it.
  4. Wednesday night, get out your turkey… and pull the disgusting papery bag of giblets out of the neck cavity, and the neck out of its butt.  (Why exactly do they put the neck in the butt, anyway?  Who’s idea was that?) Boil the giblets in your can of vegetable broth, or just use plain water… or even turkey or chicken broth.  I thought the vegetable broth would add a nice flavor.  I boiled them for a nice long time, and let it cook down quite a bunch.
  5. Finely chop up your celery & onions… or use the Magic Bullet, like I did.  I’m not real big on chunks of slimy or crunchy stuff in bread-like consistency foods.  I probably had half of each chopped finely, the other half rendered to near-paste by the genius little piece of equipment that list the Magic Bullet.  I’m sure any food processor would work.. but this one is easy to pot pout of storage, use, and clean when you’re done.
  6. Then I popped out the electric skillet to sauteé the onion & celery mixture… probably in some Country Crock & a bit of extra virgin olive oil… adding some of the spices mentioned above, and maybe even some paprika… although, they don’t come the totals listed above.  These are the aforementioned “oh, that looks about right” and  “hey, let’s add a little of this”.  You’ve sauteed stuff, you know how it works.  I love this step because it turns the onions from gross into awesome… especially the Spanish onions.  The sweet onions are oddly enough not as sweet to me when cooked.
  7. Next time, I’m totally getting a pair of swimming goggles or those glasses that I’ve seen at Bed, Bath & Beyond for when I chop & pulverize the onions.  I was crying like a little girl who just watched a car run over a kitten.
  8. I popped the onions and celery into separate containers for the ‘fridge to save for Thursday morning.
  9. Next, I pulled out the giblets and chopped them into tiny pieces, & put them with the reduced broth from cooking into a 3rd refrigerator bound container to be used on Thursday morning.
  10. Go to bed.  You have to get up early.
  11. Thursday get up about an hour before your turkey needs to go in the roaster oven, and start to mix all this crap together.
  12. Add the dry spice ingredients to the now stale-ish cubed bread.  Good luck not getting any on the floor.
  13. Chop the fresh parsley.
  14. Nuke your butter in a microwave safe bowl, add it to a large mixing bowl, crack open the 10 eggs, and whisk away.
  15. Add the fresh parsley to the buttery gooey egg mixture.
  16. Add 2-3 cups of the broth from the giblets, and the finely chopped giblets to the now even gooier butterier egg mixture.
  17. This is where I got the bright idea to dump in some Yuengling.  It wasn’t a whole bottle… but I had it out & only needed about ½ cup for my butter/garlic/beer turkey injection/baste,  so I dumped some into the gooey buttery gibletey mixture, and drank the rest… all before 8:00 am.
  18. Dump the celery & onion concoction on to the bread, mix around, and then dump on the gooey buttery gibletey Yuenglingey mixture.  This is where it was imperative that there were two of us.  Bethany opted to use her hands to mix while I poured.  The mixing gets easier when it’s wet, as it goes down a little.  You should probably wash your hands before you do this.  Not that I think you’re stupid or anything… but there are signs out there all over the place… so someone somewhere must need reminded.  Use soap, and hot water.
  19. Now, this needs to come out of the roaster so the turkey can go into it… and you should be doing this around the same time as turkey prep… so stuff what you can into the turkey carcass’ various cavities, and put the rest in the crock pot.  I had Bethany scoop it into a bowl small amounts at a time as I stuffed it into the bird, so I wasn’t touching raw poultry and the stuffing that wasn’t going into the bird.  She made it clear that she wasn’t touching the raw dead bird, or sticking her hands into it.
  20. I sewed up the turkey and popped it into the roaster to cook, and then put the stuffing in the crock pot on low to cook for the same amount of time.
  21. Everyone told me last year that stuffing + crock pot = bad idea.  This is where I say that you could not be more wrong.  It was perfectly moist and heated well throughout.  I did break the cardinal cock pot rule by removing the lid every hour or so and stirring a little so it didn’t stick to the sides or burn.  This worked well, except that I didn’t get the bottom well enough.  You could add more liquid throughout if t looked necessary… or not stir if you like the crusty part as much as the other part.  If you use the crock pot enough, you get to know what works for yours.  Pop it on to warm or off a while before you eat.
  22. When the turkey’s ready, the stuffing’s ready.  Stuff yourself silly, send people home with leftovers, and eat for breakfast, lunch, & dinner the next day.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the process, and I’m sorry for jumping tenses.  I think I did anyway.  All over the place.  Maybe Dave and Kristin can give me some pointers on that.

I’d love to know what you think of this recipe, and how you do your stuffing.  I’m always up for trying things new ways… and I’m always up for eating stuffing.  In fact, even better — make some, and invite me over for dinner!

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Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes.  I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like.  They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone.  The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter  dinner yesterday.  Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.

Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list.  This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.

People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here.  I’ll add that  my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown.  I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes.  (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
  • 2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
  • 1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. corn starch
  • Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
  • 1 sm. bag bacon bits
  • bread crumbs (or crackers)

Stuff:

  • potato scrubber
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
  • sauce pan
  • spoon and/or wisk
  • large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • aluminum foil
  • hot pads
  • oven
  • stove top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter.  Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
  4. Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
  5. Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream,  & mayo/Miracle Whip.  Stir like a madman.
  6. Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste.  Don’t forget to stir.
  7. Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
  8. Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
  9. Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
  10. Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
  11. Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.

Well, there you have it.  Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes.  I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that?  Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me.  You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions.  Everyone has their own thing that they dig.  Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey…  A mix may be nice.  As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.