I need four things on Thanksgiving.
- Mashed potatoes
Oh, and a glass of wine or two. Everything else is nice; those four are mandatory, or it’s just not Thanksgiving.
Here is number four – the simple stuffing recipe that I use for Thanksgiving, loosely based on a recipe Pam Anderson published years ago. When I hear “stuffing”, this is what I expect to see, more or less. More important, it’s what my family expects.
Thanksgiving’s essential side dishes change, depending on your location. My friend Deborah down in Austin swears this should be called “dressing”, and made with a mix of corn bread and bread crumbs. Maybe next year I’ll get adventurous and try that on Thanksgiving, but I’m worried about backlash – an angry mob of stuffing-deprived aunts and cousins, wondering where the “real” stuffing is.
Why cook this in the rotisserie? On Thanksgiving, my oven is always full. I’m using the grill, which is already fired up to cook the turkey, as an oven substitute. With the turkey suspended from the rotisserie, it is easy to slide the pan full of stuffing in when there is about an hour left to cook.
*Normally, I’m a charcoal snob, but this recipe works better on the gas grill. The even heat of the gas makes a great oven substitute. The charcoal grill tends to burn the stuffing around the edges and under cook the stuffing in the middle.
If you’re not as obsessed about rotisserie cooking as I am, ignore the rotisserie instructions. Bake the stuffing at 350°F, as described in the “Notes” section.
Recipe: Rotisserie Pan Bread Stuffing with Cranberries and Apples
Adapted from: Pam Anderson, Sharon’s Favorite Stuffing
Cooking time: 60 minutes
- 11″ by 15″ foil pan (or 12″ by 16″ oval turkey roasting pan)
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced (granny smith or other tart baking apple)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage)
- 2 pounds dried bread cubes (look for the bags in the bakery of your local grocery store)
- 5 ounces dried cranberries (1 cup)
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if using homemade chicken stock)
- 2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
1. Saute the aromatics
Melt the butter in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, apples, and garlic, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Saute until the onions are soft, about five minutes. Stir in the thyme and sage, and cook until you smell the herbs, about another minute.
2. Mix the stuffing
Put half the bread and the cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Scrape the onion and celery mix from the frypan into the bowl, then stir until evenly mixed. Pour in half the chicken stock, add the salt and pepper, and stir until all the bread is damp. Add the rest of the dried bread and stock in batches, when the mixture has compacted enough to add more bread. Stir in the beaten egg, then pour the stuffing into the foil pan.
3. Cook the stuffing
Crimp a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan, then cut slits in the pan so the turkey drippings can drip through into the stuffing. The grill should be set for indirect medium heat (about 350°F), with a drip pan under the turkey. When the turkey has 1 hour left to cook, replace the drip pan with the pan full of stuffing. Pour any drippings in the drip pan onto the sheet of aluminum foil covering the stuffing; it will drip through the slits into the stuffing. Cook with the foil covering the stuffing for 45 minutes. Remove the foil from the top of the pan and cook until the stuffing is browned and crispy on top and the stuffing measures 150°F, about 15 more minutes. Carefully remove the stuffing from the grill, scoop the stuffing into a serving dish and serve. (If the stuffing is going to sit while you carve the turkey, cover the pan with foil to keep the stuffing warm.)
- Don’t want to cook it in your drip pan? No worries, cook it in the oven. Put it in a regular baking dish instead of a foil pan, then replace step 3 with: Cover the pan with foil, but don’t cut the slits into the foil. Put the pan in a preheated 350°F oven and cook for 45 minutes, remove the foil and cook until browned on top, about 15 more minutes.
- This stuffing for a crowd. If you are serving eight people or less, you’ll want to make a smaller batch of stuffing. Halve the ingredients and cook in a 9 by 13 pan. Cook covered with foil for 30 minutes, then 15 minutes uncovered.
- You need a really big bowl for step 2. If your bowl isn’t big enough to hold all the bread at once, start with enough bread to fill the bowl 3/4 of the way full, stir in the sauteed aromatics, then stir in a couple cups of the chicken broth. Continue to add more bread and chicken broth as the mixture settles, until all the bread and broth are added.
- I buy dried bead in the bakery section of my local grocery store. They run old bread through their bread slicer and bag it up. I look for bags with a mix of different breads – white, wheat, pumpernickel – to get a blend of color.
- If you want to get really adventurous, you can swap multiple drip pans underneath the turkey during the two hour cooking time. Start with rotisserie sweet potatoes, remove them at the one hour mark, and replace with the pan full of stuffing.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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