Like most of you, I love stuffing at Thanksgiving–it’s all the more special because now that I think of it, Thanksgiving is the only time I eat stuffing (note to self: make stuffing more often). This simple-yet-delicious Fresh Herb Stuffing recipe originally appeared in the Oregonian, probably in 2005 or 2006. Googling does me no good, so I’m glad my Mom and I saved it!
After years of more complicated recipes, I was surprised by how much I liked this one. The fresh herbs really make it delicious, and it complements, rather than competes with, your other dishes. However, there are several jazzier variations included below!
Fresh Herb Stuffing
Makes 8 servings
1 1-lb. loaf firm-textured artisan white or sourdough bread (Note: if you live in Portland, Grand Central’s Piccolo Como is perfect)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (divided)
1 yellow onion, diced 1/4 inch
2 stalks celery, diced 1/4 inch
1/2 cup packed finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh savory or marjoram
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear the bread, including crusts, into small bite-size pieces, about the size of walnut halves. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, turning once, until crisp but not browned. You will have about 10 cups. Set aside to cool.
Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a wide 10- to 12-cup baking dish. Melt 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) in a sauté pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion and celery and cook for 8 minutes until vegetables have softened. Scrape all the butter and vegetables into a large mixing bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
Add the toasted bread to the mixing bowl, along with the parsley, sage, thyme, savory or marjoram, salt and pepper. Toss to combine all the ingredients and coat the bread with the melted butter. Pour in 2 cups of the stock (it should be cool) and stir. Beat the 2 eggs into the remaining 1 cup stock and stir into the stuffing just enough to blend without over-mixing. Spoon the stuffing into the baking dish without packing it down. Dot it with the remaining tablespoon of butter and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight or until ready to bake.
To bake, place the covered stuffing into an oven set at anywhere between 350 to 425 degrees; bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until stuffing crowns in the center and the top browns, 30 to 45 minutes more.
Sausage variation: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 8 ounces pork sausage and cook, stirring to break it up, just until it changes color but does not brown. Strain out the sausage and reserve, leaving the fats (no more than 1/4 cup) in the pan. Add only 1/4 cup more butter to the hot pan to cook the onions and celery. Reduce the salt to 3/4 teaspoon. Mix the reserved sausage into the stuffing with the herbs.
Mushroom variation: Roughly chop 1 pound cleaned fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, white button or portobello, and cook with the onions and celery until softened.
Chestnut variation: Roughly chop 1 cup fresh roasted and shelled, or canned, but unsweetened chestnuts. Mix them into the stuffing with the herbs.
Oyster variation: Drain 1 pint fresh, shucked oysters. Measure the liquor from the oysters and use it to replace an equal amount of the chicken stock for the stuffing. Gently mix the whole oysters into the stuffing with the herbs.
Bacon variation: Slice 4 ounces bacon strips into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook in a skillet over medium-low heat until all the fat is rendered but the bacon is not browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve, leaving the fat in the pan. Add only 1/4 cup of the butter to the hot pan to cook the onions and celery. Reduce the salt to 3/4 teaspoon. If desired, mix the reserved bacon into the stuffing with the herbs.
Apple variation: Peel, core and cut 4 apples, such as Gala, Rome or Granny Smith, into 1/2-inch dice. Cook them with the onions and celery until softened.
Are you all set for Thanksgiving? I’ll be posting this year’s menu shortly!