My delicious, steamy-in-the-middle, crispy-on-the-top-and-edges dressing yesterday had one basic secret ingredient.
Are you ready for it?
Stove-Top Stuffing. That's the secret ingredient. It comes in a box and is made by Kraft Foods and if I could get my arms around their corporate headquarters? I would so be hugging them all right now. Because after three years -- three long, purgatorial years of producing one vomit-inducing pan of dressing after another at the family Thanksgiving dinner -- I have finally found a winning recipe that won compliments from everyone.
And let me tell you: the leftovers? Even better than yesterday. No more tearing up loaves of bread and baking them dry and not having a bowl big enough to keep from slopping eggy, brothy bits of wet bread onto the kitchen floor; no, it was a simple enterprise from first to last. So without further ado, the dressing, with many thanks to my friend Amy, whose granny-in-law cracked the dressing code and paved the way for all busy holiday cooks to have a little more time and a little less stress.
1 pound sage sausage, browned and chopped into small pieces
4 boxes Stove-Top Stuffing Cornbread mix
2 sticks butter
2 medium stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 eggs, beaten
approximately 5 cups of chicken or turkey broth/stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9"x13" casserole dish. In a large mixing bowl, empty the four packets of Stove-Top Stuffing and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed. Melt the two sticks of butter in a small saucepan; simmer the celery and onion until both are translucent. Combine all ingredients with the contents of the STS packets in the large mixing bowl: about four cups of the broth, the eggs, the butter/celery/onion. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add more broth if mixture seems dry (it should be a bit wet; not VERY wet, but slightly wet.)
Empty the stuffing into the prepared casserole dish; cover with foil shiny side down and bake for thirty-five minutes. Remove foil and bake for twenty-five more minutes or until the top is slightly brown and crispy. Serve hot with slices of turkey and enough gravy to fill a bathtub.
4 boxes of chicken or turkey Stove Top Stuffing
2 sticks butter
2 medium stalks celery, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
approximately five cups chicken or turkey broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9"x13" casserole dish. Empty the packets of Stove Top Stuffing into a large mixing bowl and add the cranberries and walnuts; set aside. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan; add the sage, celery and onion and cook until translucent. Combine all ingredients in the large mixing bowl: stuffing packets/cranberries/walnuts, eggs, butter mixture. Add broth, stirring thoroughly to combine. The dressing should be a bit wet.
Turn out into buttered casserole dish, cover with foil (shiny side down) and bake in oven for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for twenty-five more minutes, or until the top is browned and crispy at the edges. Serve with great fanfare, because this is a truly lovely, delicious and festive-looking holiday dish.
OYSTER DRESSING (ew)
1 box of chicken or turkey Stove Top Stuffing
1/2 stick butter
1 small rib of celery, minced
1/2 medium onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 pint fresh oysters, minced, liquid strained and reserved in a small bowl
approximately 1 or 2 cups chicken or turkey broth
Only if you have to, preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a small casserole plate (mine is about a six-inch diameter dish); set aside. If you're absolutely certain that you must, empty the STS packet into a medium mixing bowl. Reluctantly beat the egg and add to STS mixture. In firm denial of your nameless fear, melt the butter and add the pepper, celery and onion; cook until vegetables are translucent. With a sense of impending doom, add to STS mixture in bowl. Cringing in dread, add minced oysters and the strained liquid; stir. Add more chicken or turkey broth as needed until the stuffing is slightly wet.
Fighting back nausea, cover casserole dish with foil, shiny side down, and bake in the oven for twenty minutes; remove foil and bake for another twenty-five minutes, until stuffing is golden on top and slightly crispy around the edges. Serve hot with love for your relatives who actually eat that stuff. Sit slumped in a chair with a medicinal glass of brandy. Weep.