Stuffing vs. Dressing: The most intense Thanksgiving battle
I'm not going to cover the real meaning of the American Thanksgiving holiday, or even try to sort out "Friendsgiving". For the record, I voted in favor of Friendsgiving on Foodtribe. Heck, the excessively conservative company I work for during the day is advertising its "1st Annual" Friendsgiving, taking place today at noon! YUM! Pie!! So that means Friendsgiving has come, and gone around the bend. And when I brought it to their attention that it should correctly be "Inagural" I got the usual "smartass" grumbling I always do...
The Official Start of the American Holidays begins Thursday
This is the one where various family members cook for days at a time, only to have it descended upon like a pack of hyenas and eaten in seconds. We eat around 1:00 PM so the real drinking and arguing hasn't had a chance to settle in. We have turkey (cooked by my wife according to her proprietary methods), lots of mashed potatoes, broccoli & rice casserole, known by my kids as 'green rice', rolls, pecan & pumpkin pies, yams for my BIL and cranberry jelly for me. Quarts of gravy! And whatever else people want to bring.
We also have "dressing". And thus starts the traditional First Argument of the Holidays between me and, uh, everyone else who keeps pouring gravy into their "stuffing".
The Official correct definition of "dressing"
Dry-ass stale bread
Dressing is baked in a dish, separate from the fowl of choice. It comes out crunchy and dry. Look at it on the plate? It's just a damn casserole...
Might as well serve St Louis pizza
Granted, like all the other ingredients on our harvest table, its sole purpose in life is to be soaked in gravy and eaten while still warm. It's fine in and of itself. But, I ask all the boxed-in souls I am related to, why can't we strive for better?
The Official correct definition of "stuffing"
Gaze at the bounteous glory
Stuffing is actually stuffed into the fowl's cavities (top and bottom) before baking. It is then baked while stuffed in the fowl. Then it is scooped out before carving, or if you're truly a sloth, you just serve it from the cavity to your plate.
Say it with me, people..."moisssst"
Look how formless and moist that is? You know the natural juices of the bird were absorbed by the bread. Some say that's dangerous...mew mew mew salmonella! Wussies.
A very brief personal history with stuffing and dressing, leading to controversy
As a child, my grandmas stuffed the turkey with stuffing. They also made dressing in a dish. I ate the stuffing. Most others ate the dressing. All were happy. I tooted a lot afterwards.
Between my childhood and my marriage, I cooked. I stuffed my turkey with stuffing from a box. I loved it. Everyone else hated it. They preferred dressing. I declared if others wanted dressing by all means, bring it next time. Rarely did they ever remember to do so. Happily, I tooted much less.
Upon my marriage, we became the full time 'hosts', and tasks were assigned. Even with my years of feast experience, I was limited strictly to pecan pie duty. My wife was and is still the Turkeymeister. My MIL made 'dressing', I assume she used roughly the same recipe my elders made during my youth. I suspect this because tooting came back with a vengeance.
My MILs recipe included: about 16 big onions; all the damn giblets and other parts out of the garbage sack in the turkey; diced stale bread from all the loaves of bread she'd buy during the year when it was on sale, then tossed into the freezer and forgotten about until Thanksgiving. She typically made three metric sh*t-tons of it, and it was always the last leftovers in the fridge after all the turkey, potatoes and pie was gone.
My MIL passed away three years ago, and the first post-MIL Thanksgiving, my wife tried to recreate the recipe. She cocked it up royally.
We came to a compromise. If she won't let me stuff the turkey (because her proprietary methods won't allow it) then we shall just have my favorite dressing. Stove Top boxed. We tell nobody, people love it, and the food arguments have greatly subsided TBH. And I don't toot anymore.
But what if you're not an uncouth sloth, like myself?
A very simple recipe for what I am neutrally calling 'bread mix'
Melt 1 stick butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cups each diced onions and celery, 2 chopped apples and 1 tablespoon each minced sage and thyme; season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Whisk 2 eggs with 1/4 cup chopped parsley in a large bowl; add a loaf of your favorite bread, cubed or otherwise chunked, then pour in the vegetable-broth mixture and toss.
Ideally, you will then loosely stuff it into the cavity of your Thanksgiving fowl before baking. Please allow 30 extra minutes for your bird to cook. If you have extra bread mix, continue below.
Transfer to a buttered baking dish and dot with more butter. In a 375F oven, cover and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.
In the name of unity and goodwill, can we at least agree on this?
Remove the giblets from the fowl and throw them the hell away!
For my 'Murricans: have a very happy Thanksgiving. Please don't bring up Trump at dinner, and if someone else does, just put your earphones in. Everyone else? Just count your blessings.