Like Stovetop, but fancy?
November 13, 2020 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Fellow mefites, what are your favorite stuffing/dressing recipes? To be honest, I really love the instant kind you get in a box, but I'd like to do a homemade version. We literally eat this only once a year, so I'd prefer the classic flavors, but I am also open to other suggestions if you have something truly amazing in mind.

-Will be cooked separately from the turkey
-Preferably made with regular bread rather than cornbread, but this is negotiable
-Some of the people hate celery, so that should be a minimal ingredient
-No oysters or sausage but it doesn't have to be strictly vegetarian
-I prefer fluffy rather than mushy, but it should still be delightfully moist
-No raisins
posted by exceptinsects to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a recipe, but our stuffing is:

-- either dried breadcrumbs or the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix, but throw away their spices

-- sautee onions & celery & garlic, mix in a big bowl with the breadcrumbs

-- chop up nuts (pecans or walnuts) and apples (grannies preferably), add to bowl

-- add dried cranberries

-- add spices: herbes de provence does pretty well. Definitely sage, some oregano (but not too much).

-- Add chicken broth until moist but not wet

-- toss thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste, remembering that you will be adding turkey drippings that might be more salty.

If cooking outside the bird, wait until you take the bird out of the oven and drain some of the drippings into the stuffing, then put the stuffing dish into the oven to heat. We always put half the stuffing into the bird, and then I usually mix that with the stuffing outside the bird, so everything gets some of the yummy drippings.
posted by suelac at 4:54 PM on November 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

My favorite is similar to suelac, but I use the Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing and don't add any other herbs. I sauté onions and celery in lots of butter, add the stuffing and moisten with chicken stock. Chopped nuts and apples are a great addition.
posted by Dolley at 5:11 PM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oyster dressing is a classic flavor but very regional. My dad grew up in Metairie LA (next to New Orleans) and was sent out on Thanksgiving morning to buy oysters for the dressing.

Georgia's native son Alton Brown's Oyster Dressing recipe passed muster for my dad, so I guess it's a good specimen.

Seafood stuffing, whether oysters or shrimp or crab or whatever else, is also one of the 3 stuffings for the traditional form of Louisiana turducken, the other two being cornbread stuffing (probably the most closely related to what you're thinking of as the classic, but made "dirty" with added giblets) and Andouille sausage stuffing (sausage, spices, aromatics and lots of breadcrumbs). Being cajun recipes by nature, they include the holy trinity of onion/celery/green pepper; omitting the celery per your guests' preference will not ruin the dish, so it's cool as long as my dad doesn't find out. :)

Paul Prudhomme's recipes for the 3 stuffings can be found at this link. Naturally the recipe partly exists to sell his spice mixes, but you can find people knocking those off, or using scratch spices in similar recipes.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:15 PM on November 13, 2020

Best answer: This one from Epicurious is so simple and so good. Do most of it the day before.
posted by synecdoche at 5:15 PM on November 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Here's how you make the best stuffing (cooked on its own).

You save all the heels and scraps of all your favorite breads in a bag in the freezer until you have a loaf's worth. It should ideally be a good diversity of colors and flavors and textures.

Then you take it out 2-3 days before you want to eat stuffing. Crumble it into large chunks into a large bowl, cover with a towel and sit out at room temp overnight. The goal here is to make it go stale. The next day crumble more, then on day three you toss and crumble if necessary, until you reach marble-sized chunks.

On day of cooking: sauté a bunch of onions, about one large per small loaf of bread. Cook them down good, start with fine chopped carrots if you like that, add chopped mushrooms later if that sounds good. Add thyme, sage, salt, pepper, heck maybe water chestnuts as desired.

When the veggie mix is soft and very oily, add some stock, then toss with bread mix into a casserole pan. Should be damp but not soggy. Add shredded or powdered cheese or cooked meat crumbles if you roll that way, then bake in a greased pan at 350-375 until it bubbles and browns a bit on top.

Serve and enjoy, if you have extra juices etc you can make gravy with it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:22 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I haven't commented on this site in years, but since my bf sent this to me so I could share my family stuffing recipe, I felt like I had to oblige. It's simple and really delicious.

- dice carrots, celery, and onions and sautee in a bit of olive oil until veggies are soft
- crumble in a chicken bouillon cube as the seasoning
- crumble a sleeve or two of ritz crackers depending on how much you're making
- add turkey juices or chicken stock until there's enough liquid to wet the crackers into that nice stuffing mushy texture
- keep cooking until everything is warm

done! can't wait for Thanksgiving!
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So anyway, my family (VA based) makes fried stuffing. It's delicious and tastes a bit like a crabcake without the crab. Saute a two finely chopped yellow onions, 4 cloves of minced garlic and probably 5-6 diced stalks of celery in maybe 1/2 a stick of butter with plenty of salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and (if available) a smidge of Old Bay. Add in choped parsley, sage, and thyme (I like a little tarragon, but my family views this as heathenish). When translucent and soft pour over 1-2 loaves of thin-sliced white sandwhich bread (or equivalent, cheaper the better). The bread will be ripped into small peaces or run through the food processor in adce. Add 1-2 cups of turkey stock, 1 egg per loaf of bread and maybe a half cup of heavy cream. Stir until mixed and slightly sticky.

Heat a little neutral oil in a skillet at medium heat. Spoon stuffing "pancakes" (roughly the size of a powder contact) into pan. Cook until lightly browned on both sides.

*Note: My great-grandmother would occasionally add oysters to this, but you don't need them, because this recipe is MAXIMUM RICH.

**Note2: A very nice T-giving leftover sandwich can be constructed using the stuffing pancakes as "bread" with a smear of cranberry chutney (I have that recipe too, if you need it) and a slice of cold turkey. A+++
posted by thivaia at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use the Pepperidge Farm cubed herb seasoned stuffing, with the recipe printed on the bag (onions and celery in a 2:1 ratio, lots of butter, and moistened with stock.) The secret to making it taste better is that I make real turkey stock ahead of time and use that. That is also the secret to making the gravy taste better.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:21 PM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Nthing the Epicurious recipe synecdoche shared. If you are looking for plain old delicious capital-s Stuffing, look no further! It’s pretty forgiving too. I am way too lazy to dry the bread in the oven for as long as you’re supposed to and it still comes out perfect every time.
posted by cakelite at 7:27 PM on November 13, 2020

Not really a recipe, but the last time I made stuffing from scratch I used half stock and half apple juice, and I really liked the flavor.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:46 PM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I love stuffing and I just want to say it is pretty forgiving if you take it easy. Put what you like in it; leave out what you don't. Mix it up, leaving some plain bread in reserve. Bake it anywhere from 200-350. If it feels dry, add some tasty liquid, if its too soggy, add that saved bread. Adjust as needed as you go, tasting often.

Just don't go, like, "Y'know I bet curry powder might be tasty" and stir a tablespoon into the whole batch, or figuring "Doritos are basically cornbread, right, dudes? And I was too wasted to drive to the store, anyway, so..."
posted by The otter lady at 8:59 PM on November 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I always get the store-bought stuffing but then upgrade it, using the following as a rough guide and depending on my mood:

- Replace the water with chicken (ideally, homemade) or vegetable stock (as Daily Alice mentions). Or half stock and half apple juice, as others have said. Just not plain water, is the main thing.

- Use fresh chopped herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, etc) along with salt and pepper. Seriously, double the amount that whatever recipe you pick says to use! I promise you won't be sorry.

- Don't skimp on the butter, either. Nor the minced or grated garlic.

- There's no law requiring you to include celery.

- Add flavorings - for example mushrooms (dried reconstituted including the juice, or fresh sauteéd); grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese; bacon or pancetta; caramelized onion; pecans or walnuts; dried figs, dried cranberries, diced pear or apple...I'm sure there are more possibilities but you get the idea. You can even mix'n'match any couple of those, generally picking one of the umami ingredients (mushrooms, cheese, meat, or onions) plus one of the brighter flavors (nuts or fruit) - two is probably enough. I'd say start with a ratio of about 1/3 the amount of combined flavorings to 2/3 the amount of store-bought mix being used, and you can refine from there as you prefer.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:09 PM on November 13, 2020

Also, if you go with dried mushrooms, shiitake or porcini are by far your best bet. If you use fresh mushrooms, the little brown ones (crimini or portobello, depending on how your store chooses to label them) have more flavor and umami than the white button mushrooms. Don't even feel bad about getting the pack of pre-sliced ones - hey, it's Thanksgiving! Have fun, not guilt!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:15 PM on November 13, 2020

Best answer: I use the Pepperidge Farm instruction, increasing celery and onion a lot. You can use some shallots, fennel, leeks or any savory veg that sautes and softens nicely to appease the celery-haters. Use really good stock or broth, ideally homemade from chickens that listened to Mozart and Bach, you know the drill. Fresh herbs are a lovely idea. Make extra stock, reduce some down for the gravy (add a little white wine or sherry or a brandy for great flavor) because it's the perfect topping for stuffing.

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2.5 cups Chicken or Turkey Broth
1 package (14 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Stuffing

For Thanksgiving, I am a purist and despise all non-standard additions - cranberries, apples, nuts, giblets (just, no), mushrooms. As a meal of it's own, I make stuffing and add roasted butternut squash and sausage, and if you must make fancy stuffing, it should be a 2nd option. I liked Thanksgiving with my cousin's family before they moved far away because our Moms were sisters, the stuffing was correct, and the gravy was excellent. One Thanksgiving at an in-law's, someone let a health food tyrant make stuffing - reduced fat and lots of apple and disappointment.

Some people love the edge pieces, and you can bake the stuffing in muffin tins if that's the case. I like it pretty moist, but with a good crunch on top, just bake it a bit longer for that.

I would possibly join a cult based on delicious, delicious stuffing and gravy, would have to be remote because, Covid.
posted by theora55 at 1:33 AM on November 14, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Here is my MIL's recipe. If you don't want to break up the bread yourself, I've seen "bread for stuffing" in the bakery section of the grocery store. It looks like a loaf of bread got put through a french fry cutter; long thin sticks of dry bread.

Break up an entire loaf of bread into chunks in the biggest bowl you have. Let sit out overnight to dry.

Dice about half a white onion

Dice 2-3 stalks of celery

Sprinkle on some salt and pepper

Add about 2 tsps or more of sage

Mix it all together

Add about a half stick or so of melted butter or margarine

Add some broth, just enough to moisten so it will stick together a little. Don’t want it to be wet, just damp.

Bake in casserole or muffin tins until brown on top
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:49 AM on November 14, 2020

My sister has recreated Stovetop from home. Her big discovery was that all the other recipes have sage, and she doesn't like sage. Omit all sage for a more Stovetop experience.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:09 AM on November 14, 2020

And Stovetop has a hell of a lot of salt. I used to have a picky uncle and and indulgent aunt, and she always made in-the-turkey stuffing for the crowd, and Stovetop for him. So use salted butter, broth that's reduced-sodium but not unsalted.

This was the old days, before they were too concerned with salt and his blood pressure.
posted by citygirl at 6:56 AM on November 14, 2020

May I add two things?


Water chestnuts.
posted by Splunge at 8:37 AM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is what you want
posted by ad4pt at 12:12 AM on November 16, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I think I’ll end up combining several of your techniques. I’m definitely going to make some turkey broth if I can find some wings or necks to buy in advance.
Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes, I’m intrigued by the Ritz crackers idea! Do they use all crackers, or a mix of crackers and bread?
posted by exceptinsects at 7:22 AM on November 16, 2020

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