I'm still a fan of "can-berry sauce" but I'm here to tell you that there are more things that can be done with these side dishes than are dreamt of in our childhood philosophy. For example, I never knew how good REAL stuffing could be until very recently. And now that I do know, I look at a box of stove-top and think that the cardboard box has better flavor.
It is not known when stuffings were first used. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, Apicius '"De Re Coquinaria", which contains recipes for stuffed chicken, hare, pig, and dormouse. Most of the stuffings described consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, and spelt (an old cereal), and frequently contain chopped liver, brains, and other organ meat.
Names for stuffing include 'farce' (~1390), 'stuffing' (1538), 'forcemeat' (1688), and 'dressing'. After about 1880, the term stuffing was replaced by dressing in Victorian English.
This year, my girlfriend made her recipe for hearty herbed bread stuffing. Let me tell you: my mind was sufficiently blown to bits. Delicious, sweet and savory bits.
For this batch, we acquired day old bread from County Line BBQ. If you've been to County Line, you know that one of their more notable features is the fresh bread they serve. They bring a basket of this warm, awesome, molasses-y bread to the table when you're waiting for the food. And they serve it with honey butter.
Here's how to make stuffing that people will remember and crave next year:
|First, acquire good bread. Find the nicest stuff you can find. |
Day old bread is better than fresh bread. (you're going to dry it out anyway)
We used both a brown molasses bread and a nice wheat bread, courtesy of the County Line BBQ.
|Cut the bread into small cubes. |
These should be the same size so that they toast up evenly.
You need about 8-10 cups of cubes.
|Here's some wheat bread being cut up as well. |
This batch came out with a great sweet flavor.
You could switch the recipe up and use sourdough for a totally different taste, if you prefer.
|Mmmmm, little squares of glutenous nirvana!|
|In a large pot, start the aromatics with a good amount (half a stick) of butter. |
This is 4 carrots, 1 medium onion and 2 celery stalks (plus leaves) chopped fairly thin.
(The carrots need to be thin so it cooks a little quicker)
FOODIE SNOB ALERT:
To sound like you know what you're doing, this mixture is known as "mirepoix"
and it's the base for a variety of soups, stocks, and sauces.
Here, it's being used as the foundation for the dressing.
|Now come the herbs:|
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tbsp powdered sage
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp nutmeg
and 5 or 6 cloves of minced garlic
|Stir everything slightly and let the aroma of all those wonderful herbs fill the house.|
Who needs scented candles? My place smells like great food.
|Fold the toasted bread cubes into the mixture. |
Mixing too aggressively will break down the bread too quickly and you want some texture, not mush.
|Once the bread is mixed in, pour in about 2 cups of vegetable stock.|
For a more pronounced flavor, try vegetable bullion.