This is a no-frills, no-fuss kind of stuffing recipe (or should I say “dressing” because it’s not really stuffed into the bird?). My Husband is the stuffing lover in our family. I could really take it or leave it, making more room on my plate for things like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and pineapple casserole : ) But my Husband truly thinks of stuffing as a necessary turkey adornment. Well, that, and some mashed potatoes and gravy. See how completely opposite we are?? haha Anyways, since he is so old-fashioned “meat & potatoes” about everything, I had to find a homemade stuffing recipe that didn’t have anything but seasonings and bread cubes in it. I’m talking NO meat, NO nuts, NO cranberries. Simply NO funny business with my Husbands stuffing. Luckily he was okay with the aromatics- the sautéed celery and onions- otherwise I might as well have just bought a box of Stove Top and called it a day.
This recipe hails from the great Cooks Illustrated. I found it online so I didn’t get to read their spiel on how they created it or the reasons behind their techniques, but I think it’s pretty straight forward. I halved the original recipe to size it for a 9-by-13-inch pan. The original called for 3 lbs of bread to make a 10-by-15-pan’s worth of stuffing. That’s a little overwhelming to me, but hey, if you are having that many people over that truly love their stuffing, then by all means just double it.
The most important thing to do with any stuffing recipe is dry out your bread cubes. If they aren’t dry then you are going to have mush. So in relation to that, it is also important to have a decent quality bread. You don’t want the bread cubes to be so brittle they just disintegrate into crumbs. Drying your own bread cubes is super easy though. You just cut up the cubes and place them on a sheet tray in a low-temperature oven (you want to dry, not toast!) and let them sit there until completely hard, tossing around every once in a while. You really want to make sure that you let them go until all the moisture is out of them. Just like the bread cubes you get in store-bought stuffing. This is essential in the texture of your stuffing. Without it your bread cubes won’t retain their shape or hold the moisture as well, resulting in a soggy, mushy stuffing. So please, do yourself a favor and dry those bread cubes to completion!
As far as the taste of this recipe, it follows that of a basic boxed stuffing. Except no preservatives or funny business! Completely homemade, un-adultered stuffing goodness. Sometimes I even use whole wheat bread, like I did here for these photos, and the results are still good. A word of caution however- go easy on the salt. Sometimes I feel like this recipe can be too salty so I always cut it back, taste it towards the end and add more if needed. I woud just ere on the lighter side of the salt shaker for this recipe.
- 1.5 lbs (1 lb 8 ounces, about 1 loaf) high-quality sandwich bread, cut into ½" cubes and dried (see step 1)
- 6 Tb butter
- 2 medium ribs celery, chopped fine
- 1 medium onion, minced
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2½ cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
- Dry bread cubes ahead of time. Place bread cubes on rimmed baking sheets and bake at 300°F for 30 to 60 minutes. Let cool before using.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat butter in skillet over med-high heat. Add the celery and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in herbs, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
- Add the dried, cooled bread, stock or broth to the vegetables and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients evenly. Taste to adjust seasonings if necessary. Add the beaten eggs and stir to mix. Turn mixture into butter 9-by-13-inch pan.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.