The original of this post was posted on my old blog around Thanksgiving. At the time I was researching the history of cooking and foods. It is interesting and if any of you want to learn more about the history of different types of foods check out at the Food Timeline http://www.foodtimeline.org/ .
Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without stuffing or dressing to go with the meat. Whether it is cooked inside the bird or in a separate casserole dish it has as many variations as there are family cooks. Every cook has their favorite recipe.
The history of stuffing or dressing is said to date back to Roman times and from there the use of it spread though out Europe. The Romans stuffed many meats and fish. The earliest recipes included meats of different types, vegetables, fruits and nuts. In early times stuffing was called forcemeat because it was forced into the cavity of the food. Stuffing was later called dressing in Victorian England.
The types of stuffing vary greatly. Some people add eggs, chopped poultry giblets, sausage, oysters, onions, celery, fruit and nuts such as chestnuts or walnuts. The variety of starches used is as endless as what the cook has on hand. Plain bread, cornbread and other types of bread are used as well as potato, rice and pasta. In other words the cook would take a selection of starches and add whatever vegetables, meats, fruits and nuts were available at the time. The number of stuffing recipes currently available on the Internet is absolutely amazing. About the only ingredient I didn’t find listed in the stuffing recipes I viewed online is tuna.
Stove Top brand boxed stuffing mix was introduced in the U.S. in 1972. As a result more cooks began serving stuffing with meals other than at holidays or special occasions. Because of the different flavors the company produces cooks served it with meats such as pork and not only with poultry. The boxed product can be used as the basis of your own stuffing recipe by adding varied fresh ingredients. Recipes can be found on the Internet that use boxed stuffing as an ingredient in casseroles.
The following recipe is the result of a Thanksgiving where we had planned on a certain number of guests and then found out we needed more food when extra people showed up. As usual on a holiday there were no stores open that had bread of any type left on the shelves. So we raided the refrigerator and cabinets to come up with what my Mother called the best stuffing she had ever eaten. Below it is my Mother’s basic stuffing recipe.
• 1 stick butter
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 cup of celery, sliced thin
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• ½ teaspoon of pepper
• Sage, about 2 teaspoons or to taste
• Poultry seasoning, about 2 teaspoons or to taste
• 2 or more teaspoons of dry chicken bullion
• Bread of any type; leftover biscuits, cornbread, soda crackers, buns
• 1 cup or so of leftover cooked rice
• 1 cup or so of leftover mashed, boiled or baked potato, chopped
Tear and crumble all the breads into a Dutch oven or large baking pan. Stir in the leftover rice and the potatoes. Melt butter in large frying pan. Stir in chopped onions and sliced celery. Add salt, pepper, sage and poultry seasoning. Cook until the onion is transparent. Add a cup of water and the chicken bullion. Cook the mixture for a while. Pour the mixture over the breads, rice and potatoes. Add more water as needed. Taste and add more sage and poultry seasoning if needed. Put cover on Dutch oven or cover baking pan with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave or oven.
Standard Bread Stuffing
This is the recipe my great aunt used in the 1930s and probably earlier when she lived in Chicago. My Mother received it along with other recipes that were favorites of my Dad when they married in the 1940s. It is a fairly basic recipe. I always add more onion, celery and seasoning. You can leave out the giblets and use chicken bullion instead of the giblet water for flavor.
• Chicken or turkey giblets, cooked and chopped fine
• 1/3 cup of butter
• ¼ cup onion, chopped
• 4 cups bread, torn into pieces about 1-inch in size
• ½ cup celery, thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
• 1 teaspoon of sage
• 1 teaspoon of thyme, can use poultry seasoning instead
Cook giblets in a small pan until tender. Cool the giblets and chop fine, set aside. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add the onion and the celery to the butter. Cook the vegetables over medium heat until the onion is yellow. Stir in some of the bread. Stir to prevent excess browning. Turn into a deep bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Mix in hot water or the cooking water from the giblets, add the chopped giblets. Either stuff the bird with the mixture and bake as usual or bake the stuffing in a separate baking dish in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned on top. If you do not want a browned top cover the pan tightly with foil.