I’m posting a dressing recipe now so that, if you haven’t already done so, you can take this as a reminder to start saving your ‘dead bread.’ Dry out any bread ends you have, cube or tear to your preference, and throw in a bag in the freezer. Come Thanksgiving, hopefully you’ll have enough. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll have to intentionally bake some loaves and dry them out a few days ahead of time.
Dressing/stuffing is a very personal matter. There have been Thanksgivings at my house where we’ve had more than three different kinds, based on peoples’ traditions and preferences. This is my version. I think it’s very pretty and the chestnuts give you something extra to chew, but get soft, so they don’t distract you with crunch.
Chestnuts are the hardest ingredient to source locally at Thanksgiving. Unless some show up at a Seattle market, I’m using some from PCC grown in Oregon. At least that’s better than Italy.
enough bread cubes to fill a 12X18 baking dish (about 2 loaves or 20 cups)
6 tbls. butter
2 onions, diced
about 5 stalks celery, diced
about 5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
5 c. chicken stock
1-2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 – 1 1/2 pounds chestnuts (peeled, see below)
1 cup cranberries, chopped coarsely
- Melt butter over medium-low and saute onions and celery for ten minutes.
- Add stock. Cook for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients with bread and pour over stock. Add your stock a little at a time, so that you can evaluate the wetness of the stuffing. You may want to adjust the liquid according to your preference.
- Bake covered at 350F for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until brown, about 30 more minutes.
- To peel chestnuts, carefully score each one with an x on the flat side. Drop in boiling water for 20 minutes. Cool and then peel of the skins. You can store this in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
- Usually, traditional along with Thanksgiving, is the event of me slicing my fingers while trying to score chestnuts. (This makes the rest of the preparation extremely not fun.) This year I splurged and bought “The Chestnutter” at City Kitchens. Yes, it’s a gadget that I will potentially use once a year, but hopefully it will save me from stiches. (And who knows, maybe I’ll take it home for Christmas and roast chestnuts over an open fire. Security had enough problems with my pasta roller last time I flew, I bet they’ve never seen The Chestnutter.. ..)