Thanksgiving 2010. Part 1: Stuffing

I saw no need to wait until November for Thanksgiving, since my internal Canadian-made clock was telling me to crave turkey once October arrived. Sure, the in-laws were surprised by the invitation to Thanksgiving at my place, a month early, and the supplies were harder to come by since it’s not quite turkey season in Maryland yet, but I was going to make it happen.

I’ll be stretching out the Thanksgiving posts because it’s a lot to report (and read) in one shot. And no pictures until the end, because I want it to be a surprise! Ok, that’s really because I didn’t manage to take pictures of the process, since I had my hands up a turkey’s butt for at least a portion of that morning and it’s hard to work a camera in that situation. Butter and electronics don’t mix.

Let us begin with the stuffing!

Mom’s recipe called for two boxes of “Grissol” brand seasoned stuffing breadcrumbs, but I couldn’t find that here. I had to tweak the recipe to work with what I did have, so I ended up with:

One 15 oz bag of seasoned stuffing mix
One large onion, diced
5 ribs of celery, diced
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
Some sage, thyme, and black pepper

I could have gone totally hands-on and made breadcrumbs from scratch, but this was my first try at an entire Thanksgiving dinner all by myself, and I needed all the shortcuts I could get.

I fried up an onion and all that celery in the 1/2 cup of butter, dumping in some sage and thyme till it smelled really, really good. I would guess about a tsp of thyme and a little less of ground sage. I added some fresh-ground pepper, mostly because I love my pepper mill and like to use it for everything. I stopped when the veggies started to soften, but I left them with some crunch because I like that in my stuffing. If you don’t like crunch, feel free to cook the life out of your celery and onion.

I dumped the stuffing bag in the biggest mixing bowl I had and slowly added 2 cups of warm chicken broth per the package directions. The directions actually said water, but why do that when you can use broth? I mixed in the buttery onions and celery from the pan and tossed it so the crunchy bits were evenly distributed.

The next step, of course, was to stuff the bird. I mostly tried to use a huge spoon, because the wet stuffing and the cold insides of a turkey’s body cavity gross me out a little, but I ended up getting my hands in because the spoon wasn’t getting in there properly. Maybe if I could have stood the turkey on his head it would have worked, but I didn’t have a turkey-holding assistant.

I was surprised to see that I had stuffing left over, since the bag said it was for a 14-16lb turkey and mine was bigger than that. Maybe I didn’t pack the bird efficiently enough. Either way, I was glad, because I don’t like in-the-bird stuffing. It’s wet and tastes like turkey guts. I like mine cooked outside the bird, so it can get crunchy on top. I buttered an 8×8 pan, filled it with stuffing, and ended up cooking it for 20 minutes at about 325, then kicking the broiler on for a couple of minutes to brown the top. Deliciousness. Next time I will make more stuffing so I can have a bigger pan full of the good kind.

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