Stuffing, sometimes called filling, is a side-dish that goes well with chicken, turkey and other meat dishes. The names of stuffings usually reflect a special ingredient, like oyster stuffing or sage stuffing, or the type of meal that it’s meant to go with, such as poultry stuffing.
This poultry stuffing recipe calls for a pound of bread that has been dried or toasted and cubed. Either stand by the toaster and lightly toast a couple of pieces at a time until the whole loaf is toasted, or put the slices of bread directly on an oven rack and use the lowest heat setting for a brief time until the bread is dried and no longer soft. The toaster method is a great way to involve children in the food preparation. It keeps them busy for a while and lets them feel part of the scene.
Tear the toasted bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Avoid the temptation to purchase bread cubes for this purpose. They won’t taste as good and they’re definitely more expensive. If you’re short on time, put the slices of bread in the oven the night before and the next morning they’ll be dried out and ready.
Heat two tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons water in a pan. Add one quarter-cup of both minced onion and finely chopped celery. Heat the mixture and stir often until the vegetables are cooked through and appear clear or translucent. At this point the flavors of the onion and celery have been extracted by the hot liquid and now reside in the liquid. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the toast cubes and toss with forks or hands until all bread pieces are coated. The onion and celery-flavored oil has transferred their flavors to the stuffing. Because the onion and celery were small pieces they become part of the dish.
To finish the stuffing break an egg over the bowl and toss the bread cubes until mixed well. Egg acts to bind the bread cubes together. Add a tablespoon of parsley and a few shakes of black pepper. Place the mixture in a large, covered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes or until the stuffing turns a golden-brown. Serve warm and enjoy. If there are any leftovers, refrigerate for up to three days.
To alter the recipe and make it your own, try adding a pint of oysters, sage herb or ground nuts. The seasonings are up to you, but a hint is that poultry seasoning goes well with stuffing for chicken or turkey.
Stuffing is one of those dishes that taste better the next day, so making it up a day ahead of time is a good idea. When there is a lot of food to prepare, it can be a real time saver to pre-make the stuffing, especially when it’s part of the menu for a feast such as Thanksgiving.