Preparing stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner is another one of my earliest kitchen helper memories — a far-less-regular occurrence than weekend waffles. Chloe and I were most often tasked with toasting slice after slice of Wonder Bread, then tearing it up into small pieces — a tedious, but important job.
Despite the fun I had helping out, for a good number of years I didn’t see what the big fuss about stuffing was. See, we cooked it in the bird where its flavor and texture was altered far too much for my taste. I don’t know why we began cooking it separately from start to finish — possibly for food safety reasons, maybe because of complaints from the peanut gallery (me) — but once it was cooked in its own casserole I was hooked. The dressing became crisp in some parts and perfectly moist in others — not the soggy, homogeneous lump I had previously known.
Now that I know of a really good, store-bought, gluten-free sandwich bread making stuffing is no more trouble than its “conventional” counterpart. I really love Udi’s whole grain bread, but in keeping with the Wonder Bread tradition, my variety of choice for this recipe is their white bread. To steamline things on T-day, you can easily prepare the recipe in advance — toast and break up the bread or assemble the casserole (but don’t bake it) in the days leading up.
As for cooking temps and times, those are flexible as well — just check the stuffing’s progress about 15 minutes in. Too dry for you? Stir in another tablespoon or two of broth and cover tightly with aluminum foil (don’t poke any air holes in it) before returning it to the oven. Or just suggest that your guests pour gravy over top. Too wet? Remove the foil, give it a stir, and bake uncovered until some of the moisture is evaporated. We just want it nice and hot, but since it’s not cooked in the turkey (nor does it contain raw sausage), you have a lot of leeway.
It’s funny, for what was once a take-it-or-leave-it side, this buttery, flavorful dish has become my favorite Thanksgiving staple! What’s yours?
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Preparation Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Baking Time: 50 minutes (toasting bread plus baking casserole)
Serves: 4 – 6
- 1 loaf Udi’s gluten-free white sandwich bread (heels discarded, 12 slices total)
- 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 113 grams (1/2 cup from about 1 medium) finely chopped yellow onion
- 113 grams (1/2 cup) very finely chopped celery
- 14 grams (1 tablespoon) minced garlic
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 113 grams (1/2 cup) chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bread up in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Toast for ten minutes, flip slices over and toast for 10 more, or until lightly browned. Transfer slices to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before breaking into about 1″ pieces (place in a medium mixing bowl).
DO AHEAD: Bread may be toasted, cooled and broken into pieces several days ahead of time. Store, tightly covered, at room temperature.
Sauté veggies and assemble:
Set medium (8″) skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in pan, add veggies and cook for about 10 minutes or until onion is translucent, celery just begins turning sickly green and garlic is just beginning to brown. Remove from heat, stir in poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour butter and vegetable mixture over toasted bread cubes, toss to coat (note: celery and onions will settle on the bottom of the bowl). Drizzle broth over top, tossing after every couple of tablespoons (it may seem dry, but once it’s in the oven somehow the steaming action makes it just right. Not convinced? Just do not exceed 3/4 cup of broth total or else it gets kind of gummy!). Transfer mixture to an 8″ square ovenproof dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil.
DO AHEAD: At this point, stuffing may be refrigerated overnight.
Place baking dish in preheated oven (350°F) and bake until hot, about 30 minutes. Uncover and serve!