OK, I have to admit this right now: I cheat when it comes to making stuffing or dressing. I admit it and I will gladly fess up to that fact. Dressing or stuffing has been one of those things I can never stop playing with, always mixing and matching ingrediants and since it is now essentially a side dish for me, has become a sort of labor of love. I aspire for perfection with the things I choose to cook, but dressing,…well, I think trying is what counts. 🙂
So I said I cheat and what I mean by that is I buy Pepperidge Farms stuffing as a filler in the base of my stuffing and work around it, building on ingrediants, omitting things, adding new stuff and basically pumping up from this base into a genuine original creation. Much like the show “Semi Home Made”, I use a small cheat to get me partway through the recipe, then use my creativity to finish it up. Here is the recipe for this years adventure in stuffing/dressing:
1 16oz package of herb seasoned Pepperidge Farms stuffing
2 loaves of stuffing bread, cubed and lightly toasted in the oven
1 large spanish onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
2 apples, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
stick of unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup diced almonds, toasted (optional)
In a large bowl, combine Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix with cubed and toasted stuffing bread. Add butter, onions, celery, carrots, garlic and apples. Mix together and start adding boiling water, stirring mixture til everything comes together in a moist lump. Definitely not a pretty procedure, but it’s affective. You do have to kind of eyeball how much water you add. You do NOT want to make bread soup here. After the introdcution of the boiling water, add your spices and this is all to taste: sage, poulrty seasoning, black pepper, kosher salt, allspice, cinnamon, coriander. I usually add in a small dash of cayenne pepper because I like a little heat in unexpected places, but you can omit that if you don’t want it.
Mix thoroughly and then allow to cool to room temperature. This is a very important step since the next step is to add the eggs which will bind the mixture together and if you add it when the mixture is still boiling hot, well, you will have scrambled eggs and thats just not right in stuffing darnit! After thoroughly mixing in your eggs into the room temperature mixture, you may add the diced parsley and the optional cranberries and almonds. Mix together then portion out into two large baking dishes.
Set oven to 350 degrees, cover the stuffing loosley with tinfoil and cook for 45 minutes, removing tinfoil about halfway through to allow the top to toast.
Another fun alternative is to get an ice cream scoop and a set of muffin tins. Spray tins with non stick spray, insert your muffin papers and put two large scoops of stuffing mixture into each muffin. This is a great way to create a set portion size, looks great on the table and the textures: crunchy and toasty on the outside and rich and earthy on the inside are usually a hit rather than just spooning it out of a casserole dish. I will admit, I stole this idea from Rachael Ray, but obviously the recipe is all mine. By cooking them this way, you reduce your cooking time by half.
And this stuffing is another great ingrediant for my LEFTOVERS SHEPHERDS PIE. But I still have one more important side dish to contend with before I get to that…..