I, like most Americans, have my prejudices around what constitutes a proper Thanksgiving Day meal. Stuffing is almost a religious experience in my house. I have no use for the fancy-shmancy stuffing that is showcased on magazine covers this time of year. Don’t even talk to me about goat cheese! Stuffing is the ultimate tradition (along with the canned cranberries that look like jelly) and should be revered as classic American comfort food. This is my mother’s recipe and has been served at every Thanksgiving that I can remember. Now, someone please pass the canned cranberries.
This recipe will stuff a 12-pound turkey. Feel free to cut this in half or double it, if you are feeding a crowd.
Makes 12 cups stuffing – enough for a 12 pound bird
2 Sticks Butter
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup minced celery (about 4 stalks, leaves removed)
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)
8 to 10 cups fresh bread crumbs (see below)
1 teaspoon dried sage (fresh is nice if you have it, use 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Using a large pot, dutch oven or casserole, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts, cook stirring constantly until they start to brown, about 3 minutes.
Add the bread crumbs and herbs, and salt to taste, if you use salt. Stir the bread crumb mixture for another minute or two and remove from the heat.
You can do this much ahead of time and the stuffing will last in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for a couple of days.
Pack the stuffing into the prepared bird and roast according to your turkey recipe. If you prefer, you can put the stuffing into an ovenproof dish and bake, for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
This recipe calls for almost 2 loaves of bread. Of course, the bread that you use will determine the amount of crumbs. A batard or ciabatta will render more crumbs than a standard white loaf. If I don’t have homemade bread for the crumbs, I use Acme Bread’s sweet batard for this recipe. It’s available in most grocery stores and is quite good, for store-bought bread.
2 large loaves bread torn into chunks
Using a food processor or blender, work in small batches to process the chunks of bread into crumbs. Don’t worry if the bread crumbs don’t process into uniform sized crumbs. The inconsistency is part of the charm of stuffing. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Measure out 8 – 10 cups and freeze the rest. You can do this ahead of time and freeze the crumbs in a ziplock bag. Frozen bread crumbs are a nice thing to have on hand and they keep forever.