Friday, December 11, 2015

Homemade Dressing (aka Stuffing)

What the difference between dressing and stuffing? It depends on where it's cooked. Dressing is cooked in a baking dish while stuffing is cooked inside meat (like a turkey or pork chops). Growing up we ate dressing primarily around the holidays. Today, we eat it at the holidays and occasionally as an accompaniment to less formal meals including pork chops and chicken breasts.

A dressing is a combination of starch, fruit, veg, nuts and seasonings. You can make new varieties just by swapping out ingredients. Below is my recipe for turkey dressing. When making a traditional dressing, I always include carrots, onions and celery. But that's just the beginning.

Starches: If you have a favorite dressing, you can switch up flavors by changing the starch. Instead of white bread, consider using wheat, cinnamon raisin, corn or pumpkin bread, any kind of grain (cooked rice, farro, barley), or omit the starch and pump up the veg.

Fruits, veg and nuts: Begin with a saute of carrots, celery and onions and then add in your favorites: mushrooms, roasted root vegetables, shredded cabbage or Brussels sprouts, spinach, fresh apples or pears, raisins or other dried fruits like dates, apricots, currants or cranberries. I also like a bit of crunch in my dressing and often add walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, chestnuts or almonds.

Herbs & seasonings: I always add fresh parsley to dressings. Plus rosemary, sage, chives, thyme or lemon/orange zest.

Here's a few of my favorite combos. All include chopped, sauteed carrots, onions and celery in addition to:
  • Corn or pumpkin bread, cooked breakfast sausage, dried cranberries, pecans and sage
  • Cinnamon bread, bacon, fresh apples, walnuts and rosemary
  • Rice, dried apricots, almonds, thyme and lemon zest
  • Skip the starch: Mushrooms, spinach, walnuts or pine nuts, parsley, blue cheese (I like this in a rolled beef roast).

Slice and cube bread. Toast cubes in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to dry.

Start by cooking bacon in butter. Using two fats enhances flavor of the finished dressing.

While bacon cooks, chop onion, carrot and celery.

Saute veg until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

While veg cooks, chop herbs. I use a mix of parsley and sage.

In a large bowl, combine bread, cooked bacon, sauteed
veg, pecans, cranberries and herbs. Toss to combine.

Mix in 3 cups stock. Allow bread to absorb liquid. Add more stock
if necessary. Bread should be moist, but still hold together.

Place in a 9x13 pan. Cover with foil bake at 375 degrees
for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Traditional Poultry Dressing
Makes 10 servings

2 Tbsp butter
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups bread cubes, toasted if fresh
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
3-4 cups poultry stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, saute bacon in butter until bacon is crispy. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel. Saute carrots, onion and celery in remaining fat in pan until vegetables are softened and onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. While veg is cooking place bread cubes to a large bowl. Add cooked bacon, veg, pecans, cranberries and herbs to bread. Toss to combine. Add 3 cups stock, allow bread to soak all stock. Add up to another cup, if necessary (liquid required depends on dryness of bread). Place in a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Serve.

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