This homemade stuffing recipe never sees the inside of a turkey, so it's up to you whether to call it "stuffing" or "dressing." Either way, baking it in its own dish is preferable because the top turns out golden-brown and crispy. Besides, cooking stuffing inside the bird is a major food safety risk.
Stuffing is mainly bread, so not surprisingly, the better your bread, the better your stuffing will be. That doesn't mean it can't be white bread, but a chewy, crusty loaf will hold up better, and have better texture, after it's cooked. A hearty sourdough is especially nice.
There's always a debate among stuffing aficionados over whether to include an egg, which helps to bind the stuffing together. Some people don't care for it at all, while for others it's two eggs or bust. This recipe includes a single egg, but you can use two or just leave it out, as you prefer.
As for the herbs, fresh sage is an absolute must in homemade stuffing. If you've ever grown your own sage, you know that if you're doing a big harvest (as opposed to just snipping off a leaf or three), it's best to do it a couple of months before the first frost. Which no doubt explains why sage is so traditional in Thanksgiving stuffing. You can use additional herbs as well, like thyme and/or marjoram, but definitely make sure of the sage.
The add-ons (slivered almonds, raisins, diced apples, etc) are optional, but they make a big difference, and if you're only making stuffing one time this year, you might as well go all-out. Here's some more info about stuffing, including a quantity chart, food safety tips and how to get it into the bird.
- 8 slices bread (about 4 cups or 230 grams), cut into half-inch dice
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 stick butter
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 Tbsp chopped sage, thyme and/or marjoram
- 1 cup chicken stock or turkey stock
- 1 egg, beaten
- Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or slivered almonds and/or raisins or diced apples.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Spread the diced bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Give the pan a shake midway through so the cubes brown evenly. Remove pan and let the bread cool.
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until the onion is slightly translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Transfer the toasted bread, chopped herbs and the cooked celery and onions to a large bowl. Add any nuts or fruit at this stage, too. Give it all a toss to combine.
- Now, drizzle a bit of the stock over the bread cubes and gently mix. Repeat until all the bread is moistened but not soggy. Now add the egg and toss until all the ingredients are coated.
- Butter a baking dish, transfer the dressing to the dish and bake for 25–30 minutes or until the top is crispy. Serve hot.