Saturday, November 27, 2010

First post: Thanksgiving Stuffing - Caity

Hello!!! My name is Caity. I'm 21 years old and a senior in college in Portland, Oregon. My parents and sister live in Salt Lake City, Utah and my brother lives in San Jose, California. 

I made this blog as a Christmas present for my mom, Cathy (shhhh! Don't tell til Christmas!). Here's a picture of our family: from the top left it goes Kevin, Cathy, Keegan (way to ruin the family picture, brother!), Erin and me, Caity.

For more years than I can remember, my mom has been working on what she named "The Walsh Cookbook" which is basically a typed up version of all of our family's favorite recipes (and they are goooooood!). We have been sharing "The Walsh Cookbook" with friends, extended family members and acquaintances for years.

Unfortunately, the Walsh Cookbook has never left the .doc phase but we are still hoping for the print version one day! Until then, The Walsh Cookbook blog is here to include and update everyone in old family classics and new favorites.

Since the other day was Thanksgiving (Happy late Thanksgiving everyone!), I feel it's fitting to start with my favorite part of Thanksgiving: the stuffing (well technically it's dressing since it was never in the turkey).This recipe is a Cathy Walsh original which I had her type up for me this morning. She has no idea that I'm sitting next to her on the couch blogging it :) Can't wait for Christmas!!!

Anyway, on to the dressing... I could eat dressing for days (and I do).

what you'll need:

1/2 loaf or so of crusty white bread - my mom uses a local Utah bread, Polenta Jack loaf from the Crumb Bros bakery, which is crusty, substantial sourdough loaf. Any crusty, sturdy white bread is good. 
1 batch of non-sweetened cornbread, here
1/2 (or more) of a 1 lb. tube of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
1/2-1 stick butter (add more as needed)
1/2 to 1 large onion, chopped roughly
4-6 large stalks of celery, sliced 1/2 inch or larger - use the leaves as well
1/2 to 1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped finely (not quite minced)
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 eggs, beaten well
1 to 2 cups of chicken broth

 The day before you make the dressing, cut or tear white bread into large-ish (1” or so) chunks or cubes.  Spread out onto a baking sheet and set out to dry overnight.  You can also dry out in a 200 degree oven for a little while if you want to or if you forgot until the day you are making the dressing. 

Do the same with your cornbread.  I seem to do better with cutting this into chunks (rather than tearing) so that it doesn’t crumble too much.  I usually use about the same amount of cornbread as the white bread.

In a large pan over medium to medium-high heat, cook sausage, breaking up into smallish chunks until nice and brown.   

Pour off and discard (not down the sink!) some of the fat if there’s too much—but some is fine.  Add in ½ of the butter. 

Add in the onions and celery and sauté until just barely beginning to soften, adding more butter if you feel you need it.   

Remember that you will be adding it to a lot of bread and the butter adds a lot of flavor, so be generous (plus, it's Thanksgiving. Who is trying to eat healthy anyway???) 

Add salt and a very generous amount of freshly ground pepper. If you are in the mood and have some on hand, you could add some poultry seasoning (just a mix of a few dried herbs that go nicely with turkey and dressing), or some crumbled dried sage (not too much—it gets very strong), or even some chopped fresh sage.  

Now add in the chopped water chestnuts (this picture is before they were chopped FYI). The chestnuts are my personal favorite part of the dressing -- Crunch, crunch, crunch! 

Taste and adjust seasoning.  It should taste overly seasoned at this point.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

Put bread and cornbread cubes in a very large bowl.  

Add in every last little bit of the sausage mixture, then the beaten egg(s).

Using your hands, or two large spoons if you must, very gently lift and combine mixture well.   

Pour broth over mixture and again gently combine so as not to break up all of the bread.  Add enough broth so that mixture is quite moist, but not too soggy.  At least some of the bread cubes should retain their form.   

The amount of broth will vary according to how dried out your bread is.  Obviously the drier your bread, the more flavorful broth it can accept; it will have even more flavor without having to stuff the bird with it, which I feel compacts the mixture too much and makes it look not yummy.  In my opinion....

Put into a greased casserole dish or baking pan, cover with foil and bake (while the turkey is resting out of the oven usually) at 325-350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or so, or until edges are starting to brown. 

Pull off foil and continue baking until the top is nice and golden brown, but not too dried out—about 30 minutes total.  Moist and full of flavor, some crunch from the veggies, with golden crisp yummy-ness.  So good.  Tastes like home.


Here's a couple pictures from our successful and DELICIOUS Thanksgiving!

The talented chefs! Lynn (left) and Cathy(right)

Molly, our family dog, had her boyfriend Wilson (blue bandana) over for Thanksgiving. They played non-stop... except to beg for scraps at the table. So well behaved! (note: extreme sarcasm in last sentence) 

Keegan - butcher of turkeys. Run away turkeys or he'll get you! 

The attendees -- all looking rather full after several rounds of eating. 

 Meet Molly Walsh. She is a Walsh dog which our family friends will all tell you means that she is the most loved and adored member of the family. She's not spoiled at all, sitting AT the table getting fed from my sister's fork.

Happy Late Thanksgiving!!!!!! Now let's get out the Christmas music.

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