Thanksgiving, for those of us cooking, is a hectic week of preparation. Because I’m a bit of a stressball, I like to do as much ahead of time as I possibly can so I don’t panic the day of and mess everything up. The stuffing has always been a bit of a white whale for me. I love homemade stuffing (thanks, mom, for those years of making traditional stuffing so good I can’t bear the box kind), but I never thought I could make it in advance.
Not so, not so! This year, I’m going for the stovetop version to save myself anxiety and a few glasses of wine. But of course, it has to be homemade, too, with the same flavors my mom uses, namely, sage and thyme.
Because this stuffing “mix” is so easy to make, I’ll no longer relegate the side dish to Thanksgiving, either. This is an all-year kind of thing, folks.
A few notes about the recipe: Feel free to make your own variations. For example, substitute a bit of white wine for the broth. Add some celery, onion, walnuts, cranberries, carrots, whatever your heart desires. Just add any of these things at the melting-butter step and let them cook for a few minutes until softened. You can also slice the bread into cubes before toasting if you want more uniform pieces, but my mom used to break apart her bread, and I’m nostalgic, so that’s why I break it up in choppy pieces after toasting.
While this recipe is meant for the easiest preparation possible, stove-top cooking, you can also combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake the stuffing in the oven, covered with foil for about twenty minutes, and then uncovered for an additional ten minutes. You may need a bit more broth though.
I’ve divided the recipe into four containers. This is for simple portioning, cooking, serving and saving. Cooking for two? Use only one container. Cooking for four? Use two containers. Cooking for everybody? Use all four containers.
Save any un-used containers of stuffing mix for up to five days at room temperature, if kept sealed and as long as your bread is toasted enough to keep the bread dry. This works well for Thanksgiving if you run out of stuffing but still have other leftovers to use up.
By the way, I’m more than just stuffing. Check out this post for additional tips and links to make Thanksgiving day run smoothly. And since you’re saving so much time on your stuffing, you can make this awesome turkey chocolate cake.
- 12 slices white sandwich bread
- 4 teaspoons dried sage
- 4 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Stuffing:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/3 cups chicken broth, or stock, plus additional
- 4 stalks celery, small, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Arrange the bread slices on the tray. Bake until the bread begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the tray half way through, if necessary, for even browning. Flip the bread over and brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Make sure all of the bread is toasted through and fully dry. Remove the toasted bread from the oven and let cool.
- Break or cut the toasted bread into ¾-inch cubes. Some of the bread will break when cutting into irregular shapes. Be sure to collect the crumbs when cutting. Divide the bread (including the crumbs) into four jars or containers. You should have about 1 ½ cups of bread cubes per jar, or 6 cups total.
- Into each of the four jars, add: 1 teaspoon sage, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
- Tightly secure the lids on the jars or containers, store at room temperature, and prepare stuffing within five days.
- To prepare stuffing, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Use one tablespoon of butter per jar of bread cubes you are using. If desired, add chopped celery (one stalk per jar). Cook the celery until just softened, five to six minutes.
- Pour in chicken broth or stock, 1/3 cup per jar you are using, and heat until simmering. Add the bread and herb mixture from the jar(s) and stir well. Add additional broth, if the mixture is too dry for your taste. Remove from the heat. Let the stuffing sit for five minutes before serving.
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