Stuffing is a perfect dish: Savory and sweet, crunchy and moist, hearty…and in this case healthy.
So why do we make it only once a year?
I really don’t know. But, because we tend to make stuffing infrequently, (and because there is a bit of pressure on making ‘perfect’ stuffing to worthily accompany the Thanksgiving turkey – or to make vegetarian friends feel especially welcome) a fair amount of thought goes into a recipe that is really as easy as tossing together bread cubes, seasonings and whatever mix-ins desired! But year in and year out, I always forget which is best:
Which makes a moister stuffing: Bread or cornbread?
Rosemary or thyme or sage?
How much broth? One recipe says 1/2 cup another 1 1/2 cup for the same amount of bread?
Eggs or no eggs?
Cover in the oven or not?
So I set out to answer all these questions AND WRITE THEM DOWN for next year…in order to perfect a moist (but crunchy on top) flavorful (not bland) AND healthy vegetarian stuffing.
And because this recipe is chocked full of fruits and aromatic veggies – plus crunchy pecans and meaty mushrooms, it happens to be vegetarian.
So here are the tips I’ll remember for next year:
- Use BOTH bread and cornbread! Since this is a healthy stuffing recipe, I used whole grain French bread – which could make for a drier stuffing. But cornbread soaks up the broth and eggs and then distributes throughout – so the stuffing is super moist with the sweetness of cornbread. Use whole grain cornmeal (Deanna explains here) in your cornbread recipe (or in super time pinch – hey, I know it happens – use that little blue Jiffy box.)
- Rosemary, thyme & fennel seeds. My kids tell me sage “tastes like dirt”, so I use rosemary, thyme plus, because I think the best part of sausage is actually the fennel seeds, I throw those in too. The sweet fennel totally brings together the sweet apples and carrots with the earthy mushrooms.
- Stir 2 beaten eggs into 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth and then toss with bread. Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth to drizzle on top if dressing seems dry (mine did). Or if you do make-ahead dressing, save it and definitely use 1/2 cup then.
- Cover partially. To get a dressing that’s so moist it need not be drenched in gravy but still crispy on the edges, bake with a piece of foil (covered with cooking spray) that is about 1/2-1 inch too small for the dish on all sides. Remove it for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Do you make stuffing more than once a year?