An anthropologist might analyze your family background by ingredients in your turkey stuffing.
I wonder what could be said about my stuffing — a simple mix of mushrooms, onions and celery? No eggs. No butter. Probably some joke about mushrooms. However, a variation of this stuffing has graced my Thanksgiving table since 1980 when I first published the basic recipe. Even subtracting the ten or so years I spent as a restaurant critic eating out on holidays, its deliciousness has spanned a generation.
Based on the method I learned in France for inserting a vegetable mixture between the breast and skin of a chicken, I have always used this stuffing between the turkey breast and skin to protect the delicate white meat during roasting. The result has been extra-moist turkey every time. So the quantity — for a 12 to 15 pound turkey — is enough to cover each side of the breast and fill the cavity and the neck skin, too. Alternately, it can be dotted with a little butter and baked separately in a 3-quart heatproof dish until just hot all the way through.
The stuffing also has lightened up a lot over the years. I originally made it with leftover mushroom-flavored bread. At one point it included cooked pork breakfast sausage which was delicious but heavy. After I moved from Chicago to New York, I could get fabulous sourdough a few blocks from my house and sourdough it’s been ever since. I love the texture and flavor sourdough and truly believe it makes all the difference in the stuffing. Most recently, I replaced butter I would add for its “basting”quality with olive oil.
So now it’s down to 7 basic ingredients — sourdough, chicken broth or water, oil, garlic, onions, celery and mushrooms plus parsley, herbs and seasoning.
The sourdough absorbs a full two cups of boiling hot chicken broth or water.
Then the vegetables are cooked until they are softened and stirred into the bread cubes along with herbs that help make turkey even more delicious.
(Photos: Lisa Deyo)
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