I love to eat, but I cannot eat that much in one sitting. This isn't some kind of a humble brag about the way I look. Trust me, I look like I eat plenty. But I can never quite eat as much as I would like. That perfect looking dinner I just ordered at a restaurant? More than half is coming home in a doggie bag. And as much as I'd always love to order dessert, I very rarely can (until I've had like an hour to digest and a good walk around the neighborhood). And forget it if I'm also having a drink. Beer added to the equation means I'm able to eat even less.
But there's one day a year when I can truly pack it away. That day, natch, is Thanksgiving. Perhaps it is my insanely gluttenous nature coming out to play that day that makes me unable to stuff my face to my heart's content the rest of the year. But regardless, I eat a generous helping of everything on order at my mom's Thanksgiving meal (which generally includes: turkey (sometimes two different kinds), two kinds of stuffing, two kinds of cranberry sauce, carrots, corn, cornbread, green beans, sweet potatoes, some kind of Italian dish like stuffed shells or lasagna, and dinner rolls, plus the occassional addition to the menu that she just dreamed up), and then around 8:00pm, I come back to her house in my pajamas to eat Second Dinner, which is a plate filled with every single item from the dinner we already had that day.
This is my husband, Chris. Ain't he cute?
I've never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner myself, since it's my mom's big day and no one would ever try (or want to - she's a great cook!) take that away from her. But I have always loved the idea of Friendsgiving. If you don't live near (or want to be with) family, it's a great excuse to still have the big fancy fun holiday on your own terms. And if you do have 3rd Thursday in November plans, it can be a really nice excuse to get together with your friend family, feel grateful that they're in your life, and eat all of the foods that you love without worrying about whether Aunt Belinda would scoff at your taste or whether that one neighbor your dad always invites that no one really likes would be disappointed that there's no cornbread with the actual pieces of corn in it (which has no place on any table of mine, just saying). So if you are hosting or are being asked to bring a dish to a Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving this year, my husband (former chef and current tabletop game designer) has whipped up this very simple but very delicious stuffing recipe.
Also, you can download free place cards that I painted for you HERE!
Here are a few tips from the chef himself!
Use a simple white bread (like French or Italian) for this recipe. You can also use rye, if you're feeling saucy, but stay away from seasoned breads, or the seasoned pre-cubed stuffing croutons. There's nothing wrong with them, but you don't want to dump a bunch of extra herbs into them, because that would be overkill. Also, just grab a loaf from the supermarket bakery! It really won't change the taste or texture much if you go expensive and get something from a fancy bakery. You are turning this bread stale before eating it, after all.
If you don't have a mortar & pestle, buy one! If you use dry herbs, which most people do, grinding them releases the oils and aromatics. Also it helps to break down harder herbs like fennel and rosemary. In fact, it's borderline impossible to cook with dry or fresh rosemary unless you are able to grind it down a bit beforehand. Or want to spend your whole night chopping it into oblivion. They're usually not too expensive (we got ours at Home Goods for $12), and you get to feel like a mad scientist in your kitchen! Plus, they're easier to clean than a spice grinder (just wipe it out with a paper towel!), and they work when the power goes out.
This recipe tells you how much salt and pepper Chris used. You may prefer to use less or more. Here's why it doesn't say "salt and pepper to taste," though: A lot of recipes that use that phrasing are for things that can be tasted throughout the cooking process. Sauces, soups, mashed potatoes, etc. can all be tasted as you go so you can add more salt and pepper as needed until it feels just right for you. When it comes to recipes like this, or ones that involve raw meat, you can't taste how much salt you put in until you've cooked it. So it's almost like they're setting you up to fail! If you cook often, you'll already have a feel for how much s&p you like. If you don't, try this recipe with the amount listed, and see if you like it. Chris doesn't tend to like things too salty since his restaurant background told him to season food so a diner wouldn't NEED to ask for salt. I love salt, so I always add more. You may need to do that, or maybe you'll find this to need a little less next time. Chris always says that the right amount of salt in a dish should always make you wonder if it's too salty, but not be able to definitively answer. So basically, get yourself right up to the line, but don't cross it. That's not exactly helpful advice, but it's the advice he wanted me to give you. :)
And now for the recipe!
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 loaf of Italian or French bread (about 12 ounces), cubed and left to stale overnight
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large stalk of celery (about 3/4 cup when diced)
- 1/2 of a medium sized onion (about 3/4 cup when diced)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups sodium-free chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 1.5 tablespoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
- 3/4 tablespoon rosemary
- 3/4 tablespoon thyme
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Finely dice the celery and onion.
- Melt the butter and olive oil together in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about a minute, then add the celery. Sautee them together for about five minutes, until the onion is translucent and you are just starting to see some color develop in the pan.
- Put the sage, rosemary, and thyme into your mortar and pestle and grind. If you haven't used one before, just drop them into the bowl, press down with the pestle to help break the herbs down, and then run the pestle in a circular motion while pushing down until your herbs look nicely ground. They won't be completely powerdery, but they'll be considerably smaller!
- In a small bowl, add your ground herbs, egg, chicken stock, salt, and pepper, and whisk together.
- Add the vegetables to the liquid and stir.
- Add the liquid mixture to the bread and stir.
- Place everything into an ungreased loaf pan and pat down. Let it sit for a minute or two and then pat down again. This ensures that all of the stuffing is sitting tightly in the pan.
- Wrap the pan in tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Take the tin foil off the pan and then put back in the oven for 5 more minutes.