Most people call it stuffing, I call it dressing. At least that’s how I grew up. With Thanksgiving Day right around the corner, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this tasty side dish. Do you stuff it in a turkey and bake it all together or do you put it in a baking dish and cook it separately? Do you make it with cornbread or do you opt for bread? I’ve had it just about every way you can think of, but my all-time favorite is the way my mother always made it.
My mother made bread dressing that she baked in a large casserole dish. We had it only one time during the year and that was for Thanksgiving. The kitchen would be full of people, voices rising to be heard over the group, some would be helping with side dishes, some were there for the wine, but all were so thankful to be sharing the holiday with each other for another year.
My mouth would begin to water as my mom started combining the ingredients on Thanksgiving morning, but the prep work began weeks ahead when my mom would make homemade chicken stock. She would let the chicken cook for hours over a low flame and then strain it and skim the fat. Then she would freeze it. I never realized just how delicious homemade chicken stock tastes compared to the store bought versions until I was experimenting with recreating my mom’s recipe to make it healthier. Then the day before she would toast the day-old, homemade bread from the local bakery, cut it into cubes and let it dry overnight in a huge stainless steel bowl.
When it all came together and went into the oven, we waited anxiously for it to come out in hopes that we might sneak a crispy corner piece.
My recipe this week is a take on my mother’s recipe, but a little healthier. She used about two sticks of butter. My recipe uses only about a tablespoon. I also added lean pork pan sausage. My family ate it like a meal instead of a side. The great thing about this recipe is that you could also add cooked, cubed butternut squash or Brussel sprouts or walnuts or even dried cranberries to tailor it to your family’s taste.