Yay! First recipe installment on the new blog. I’m so excited! This is something that I want to get better at doing – posting recipes and actually remembering to take pictures while I’m cooking.
Because we’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, and Christmas is on it’s way I thought that sharing our family stuffing recipe was a good way to start.
Aside: Our family actually gets to celebrate both Canadian and American Thanksgiving. All of us are Canadian citizens, and Chris and Alex are dual. We haven’t transferred US citizenship to Olivia yet because the process is much different and expensive for adopted children than for birth children. I also haven’t gotten a Green Card because we live in Haiti and haven’t needed it. So, that’s our complicated explanation of why we get to celebrate twice!
My mom admits that she doesn’t love to cook and does it more out of necessity, but when it comes time for a turkey dinner watch out! She loves to cook turkey and all the fixings. Coming from a Ukrainian background food was always at the center of her family gatherings and celebrations growing up, and Chris has had to learn over time that it came with the package when he got me. It wasn’t abnormal growing up to have Christmas dinner with 20 people around the table from both sides of our family with about 15 different dishes of food. We always joked that it was one dish for every person. As my brother and I got older we kept telling Mom, “More stuffing! There needs to be more stuffing!!” Eventually it became my job to make the stuffing, and I would always make enough to stuff every available cavity of the typically 20 lb bird, and a dish on the side. I mean, you need to have enough for left overs!
I think, and Mom can correct me if I’m wrong, that it was my Granny Lockhart (Dad’s Mom) who taught her how to make stuffing. My Baba, Mom’s mom, had all her recipes in her head and to this day all of my aunts talk about the fact that so many of her yummy Ukrainian dishes weren’t able to be passed on because they weren’t ever written down. My Granny is different in that not only does she have stuff memorized, but all of her tried and true recipes have been passed on, in written form, to not only the daughters and daughter in laws, but also to us grandkids, and I’m sure even some of the great grandkids now. And, the fun thing is that many of the recipes that Granny has passed on, were passed on to her by my great Granny Runnels or great Granny Lockhart. I love that!
Now, the best thing about this stuffing, aside from how easy it is, is how delish it is. Before I moved to Haiti I worked as a youth pastor, and one Christmas the other youth pastor and I held a Christmas banquet for all of our student ministries volunteers. He did the turkey and I did the stuffing and other fixings. As I was cooking the beginnings of the stuffing in the church kitchen random staff members started to wander in to see what smelled so good :) It’s a flexible recipe too in that you can add or take away, and you can adjust it for cooking in the bird versus cooking on the side in a dish. This year for both Thanksgivings we had chicken instead of turkey because that’s what’s available, so I cooked it on the side. For Christmas we spring for a turkey and that baby gets stuffed!
Without further ado…
Granny Lockhart’s Stuffing
1-2 medium onions, chopped (adjust depending on how much you like onions)
1-2 c. chopped celery (we can’t get celery in Haiti so I substitute fresh parsley and it’s yum)
4-5 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can sliced mushrooms with juice, chopped if pieces are large
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. ground sage (give or take)
1 can of chicken broth OR 2 chicken bouillion cubes and 2 cups of water
2-4 cups of water, if needed
2 – 3 loaves of sliced bread, cubed (I like to do mostly white bread with about 1/3 whole wheat)
Chris likes to tell me that I have too many things in our kitchen. I tell him that’s like me telling him he has too many tools. He usually stops talking at that point.
1. Chop up onion and celery/parsley and set aside.
2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot, depending on how much you’re making. Remember the bread will take up a lot of room! The olive oil helps the butter to not burn.
3. Once butter is melted and starting to bubble add onion and celery/parsley. Cook until onions start to go transparent. Add the canned mushrooms and all the juice.
4. Time for the seasonings! Add some salt and pepper. You know what you like, so go with that and don’t be afraid to to taste the liquid off the spoon. Add your sage, and again, adjust as necessary.
5. Time for the broth or bouillion. If you’re going to be using broth just dump it in the pot. If you’re using bouillion, which is what I do because if I can find broth it’s expensive, just crumble the bouillion cubes over the mixture and stir. If you have used bouillion you’ll need to add about 2 cups of water now to take the place of the broth liquid. Hold off on adding any other liquid until you start adding your bread.
6. I cut my bread and add it as I go so I can see how much I need. My mom used to keep a big Tupperware bowl in the deep freeze where she would put all the crusts and stale bread through the year and save it for turkey dinner. When it was time she would cut the saved crusts and pieces and then add fresh bread as needed. Some people like to use bought dried bread cubes. Really, it’s completely up to you! Use what you like. I start with about half a loaf, cubed, and mix that into the pot. This helps distribute the flavor more, and helps with the mixing process as you add more bread. With a full pot it can be hard to get all the good stuff from the bottom mixed in. Keep adding cubed bread until you have enough stuffing. Add extra water to moisten as needed. You don’t want dry stuffing! Taste it and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Now, to stuff it or side it???
For stuffing in the bird:
My mom taught me to always rinse out my turkey after removing and giblets that have come with it (those make amazing gravy!). Give your bird a good rinse, let it drain, then set it in the pan. When you’re ready to stuff it take a large handful of stuffing and make it into a well packed baseball shape. Don’t be gentle. Start with the main cavity of the bird and jam those balls of stuffing in there. Once you’ve got it in use your fist to really cram it into all the nooks and crannies. Fill up the main cavity, then pull any skin flap over and if you have them, use your turkey spikes to close it up. Now move on to the front cavity where the neck has been removed. There should be a big flap of skin. Lift it, jam as much stuffing in there as you can and fold the flap over, tucking it under the bird. If you have any remaining stuffing put it in a dish to cook on the side.
For cooking on the side:
Lightly grease an oven safe dish with butter or cooking spray. Put your stuffing in the dish and set aside until after the turkey comes out of the oven. If I have lots of juice from the bird in the bottom of the pan, I’ll take my baster and squirt some over the stuffing before I pop it in the oven. Doing that helps the stuffing to take on the turkey (or chicken) flavor even if it wasn’t cooked inside. Put the stuffing in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes while your turkey is resting and you’re getting the other parts of the meal finished up. When it’s heated through take it out and let it sit for a few minutes before you put it on the table.
There you have it! And, funny thing – I forgot to take a picture of the finished, cooked stuffing. Go figure…
Like I mentioned above, we can’t get celery here easily, or inexpensively, so I don’t put it in and use fresh parsley in it’s place. It totally works for us. Chris actually hates celery, so he’s happy about this little switcheroo. You don’t have to put mushrooms in if that’s not your thing. I love it that way and can’t imagine it without. At Christmas time I like to throw in about a cup or so of dried cranberries. The smell, the taste, oh my! The sweet and savory is amazing, and the cranberries add a nice color and something unexpected.
All in all it’s really flexible and I think you could play around with the recipe and add what you like.