The absolute best part about any turkey dinner, in my opinion, is the stuffing. I found out why today.
Stuffing can be a complicated thing to make. Some people pride themselves on bizarre mixtures of meat and spices, but stuffing is awesome because of its simplicity. And butter.
The amount of butter that goes into stuffing is a bit scary, but watching it all bubbling in a pan you understand why stuffing tastes so great. Stuffing is really just chunks of bread slather in melted butter and spices then baked in the oven. Here’s how we threw together delicious stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner in about twenty minutes.
You will need:
- 1 onion
- 5 stalks of celery
- one and a half loaves of bread
- nuts, either walnuts or pine nuts, we did two separate batches and used one in each
- some sage, salt, and pepper
- half a pound of butter
- a big bowl to mix ingredients
- a deep baking pan (one the size to make bread works) or a casserole dish
Yup, half a pound of butter. Go to the store and buy a block of butter then cut it in half.
Before you do any cooking, mince the onion and celery and put them in bowl. For guys who don’t do a lot of cooking, mincing is just code for chopping it up into the smallest possible pieces. Don’t sweat it too much, it’s just food.
If you’re using walnuts, put them in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Crush them up good and small but really, it’s just food. If you want big chunks, leave it in big chunks.
Next cube the bread. Cut it into cubes about half an inch across. Again, the actual dimensions don’t matter much, you just don’t want toast. You can rip up the bread if you prefer.
So far you can see, that not only is this simple to do, there are plenty of jobs for kids to do. If you don’t want them handling a knife, get the to tear up the bread with their fingers or crush the walnuts. If they’re okay with a knife, they can do most of the prep work, while you supervise.
Now we’re ready to cook. Preparing the ingredients is by far the longest part of the job, so you’re almost done.
Put the pan on the stove and heat it up (medium high or so) and then drop the butter bomb in. It will melt and start to bubble. Once the butter is melted pour in the onion and celery then stir for about five minutes while they soften up. Once that’s done, toss in the nuts and the sage, salt and pepper and give it another three minutes or so until the nuts start to brown.
How much sage and salt and pepper? Depends on how much flavor you like. I just sprinkled the sage on until it looked about right, though the recipe we sort of vaguely followed said 1 teaspoon of dried sage (or tarragon). Measure it if you like, but there’s no reason to get too precious about it. It’s just food. Likewise, a teaspoon of salt is about right, but I like salt so I sprinkled on a bit more. Pepper is optional and we didn’t add any because my youngest son isn’t big on spicy food. I doubt he would even have tasted it, but better safe than sorry.
Once the nuts are done, you want to mix the breadcrumbs in. If you have a big enough pan to fit everything and stir it without shooting bread and nuts all over the floor, pour the bread cubes into the pan. It’s way easier, though, to keep the bread in a giant mixing bowl and pour the butter concoction over top of it. Get a wooden spoon or some other big utensil and mix the bread around until the nuts and butter are thoroughly spread around and every cube is dripping with yummy butter. Have a taste now, and if it seems like it could use some more salt, pepper or sage sprinkle some more on and mix again.
Tasting at this stage is critical for two reasons:
- Tasting is the only way to know if the food is seasoned properly;
- This is your chance to get a little extra stuffing without having to explain to the rest of the family why you’re taking all the good food. Let whatever kids are helping you taste too and they’ll be more likely to help next time.
Once it’s done spoon it out into the baking pan or casserole dish and cover it with aluminum foil. When the turkey is about 45 minutes away from being done, throw the stuffing in the oven with it and you’re all done.
Now stand back and take all the praise for dinner. Not only is stuffing super easy to make, it’s hands down the best part of any dinner, thanks in large part to the vast quantities of butter in it. Making a batch of stuffing takes all of twenty minutes and cooking it effectively takes no time since the oven has already been set up by someone else (who might even be convinced to put your stuffing in at the right moment).
Also, feel free to double the recipe. It’s as easy to make a big batch as to make a small one, it just takes a little more time chopping.