The year was 2008. For the first time, my grandmother let one of her 5 children host a holiday. This meant Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family was being held at our house. There were certain traditions we couldn’t let go of – including making copious amounts of my Grandma’s Holiday Stuffing. Still, change permeated the air. The fine china was replaced by paper plates, the mismatched silverware replaced by plastic look-alikes and the cousins brought the wine.
Growing up, the holidays were not complete without Grandma’s Stuffing, which she called ‘dressing.’ Every year I remember sitting at the “big kids table” and impatiently eyeing everyone take a big spoonful of stuffing while patiently waiting my turn… We never had enough of this stuffing for my 10 aunts and uncles, 25+ cousins and all of their spouses, children, significant others and everyone else my Grandmother welcomed into her home.
Flash forward to 2013. I am married and spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. They have a passion for cooking that cannot be rivaled. Still, for the past 2 holidays we have spent together, I have held tight to this recipe. It has been updated with a little less butter and the addition of chicken stock. I usually double or triple this recipe for the holidays. As a side serving, it will serve 6 big or 9 small people.
Grandma’s Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing
12-13 cups Italian bread, cut into 1″ x 1″ pieces, left out overnight*
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean’s sausage
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c. onion, finely diced
1 1/2 c. celery, finely diced
2 T. assorted herbs – dried Poultry Seasoning plus fresh thyme leaves and sage – if available
1/2 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
4 c+ chicken broth
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350F (or whatever temperature the turkey is cooking at).
2. Place day-old, cubed bread in a huge bowl or stockpot.
3. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high flame until cooked through, breaking up into tiny bits with a spatula. Pour over and mix with bread.
4. In the same skillet, melt a stick of unsalted butter. Add onion and celery and sauté until celery is soft and onions are translucent, but not brown. Pour over and mix with bread.
5. Add walnuts to skillet to toast slightly, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour over and mix with bread.
6. Stir poultry seasoning, fresh herbs and parsley into the bread mix. Add chicken broth, 1/2 cup as a time, as needed to moisten the stuffing. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Optional: Melt some additional butter and pour over the stuffing mix to add flavor and moisten).
7. Before placing stuffing in the oven, ladle gravy or more chicken broth over stuffing to keep it moist (but not soaked) during cooking.
8. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, if you like having some crispy bits on top.
9. Serve to family, friends and loved ones. Tell everyone it is fat free.
* Note: If you are traveling or running short on time, you can buy thinly sliced strips of bread from a local bakery or grocery store instead of cutting your own the night before.