Grandma’s stuffing

It’s what makes our Thanksgiving menu such a special, family-favorite menu. It is everyone’s favorite—back when I was a kid, when our kids were little, and now. It’s the #1 choice when we ask, “so, what should we have for Thanksgiving this year?”

This post has been updated as of 11/18/2022.

Unfortunately, my brothers and I never thought to ask mom or grandma for the recipe. But fortunately, we all agree it was simple and basic. After lots of searching and testing, I have a close contender from one of my favorite gurus, America’s Test Kitchen, and have also found a video from that confirms some of my suspicions about how to make the recipe great. This year will be the ultimate (I hope) test.

The KPI’s (Key Performace Indicators) are:

  1. Hand-torn bread: I can still see my Mom sitting in front of the TV on the night before Thanksgiving—watching the Perry Como Christmas Special—as she tears two loaves of Wonder Bread into the roasting pan. Some recipes call for cutting your bread of choice bread, such as brioche or challah, into 1/2″ pieces. I’m sure that hand-tearing yields a lot of little texture bits along the edges of the unevenly-sized pieces. There’s some magic in that.
  2. Simple ingredient list: Grandma’s recipe was simplicity itself—bread, onion, celery, and egg. Probably salt and pepper, but I’m not sure. When Aunt Shirley joined our family and we had Thanksgiving at her house, she introduced us, or me at least, to sage dressing. For all I know, she may have parsley, rosemary, and thyme in there, too. I like sage in many dishes, but not in my classic Thanksgiving stuffing. We’ll agree to disagree on this one.
  3. The right moistness: I remember the stuffing as pretty moist—and this was perfection—the real essence of stuffing greatness. I’ve tried recipes that left the stuffing way too dry, but have never made it too moist. If you get there, trying baking a bit longer.

In or out of the bird?

My mom and dad always stuffed the bird, and then made a casserole on the side because again, the stuffing is the crowning touch of our Thanksgiving dinner, and extremely popular. The inside stuffing was always better with more turkey juice flavor. However, I never stuff the bird these days since I realize how much this lengthens the roasting time and adds unnecessary complications to an already nerve wracking last-hour-before-serving-the-Thanksgiving-dinner chaos.

Stuffing or Dressing?

Who cares?

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