With yesterday's snowstorm, a warm and comforting Sunday supper felt just right, and what's more warm and comforting than stuffing?
This is a favorite recipe of mine, adapted from the 2006 edition of Allysa Torey's go-to Sunday supper cookbook. I've made it so many times that my well-worn copy's binding is cracked to automatically open to page 84. Many other pages (the crostini with goat cheese and tomatoes, the lemon-tarragon chicken, the summer squash-sweet corn casserole, the peach crumble) are similarly splotched with food stains and spills. That's always a good sign, right?
I've made a few alterations to the recipe over the years. The major one is adding a few eggs, to bind the stuffing together and give it a richer bite (if you prefer your stuffing egg-free, increase the amount of stock to 2 cups). If I don't have the exact herbs on hand, I'll substitute others, although sage is a must. The chives in my refrigerator were looking pretty desperate, so for last night's iteration I tossed in marjoram and savory, and it was as good as always.
(By the way, Torey calls it dressing, but this Minnesotan prefers stuffing, even though it's not getting anywhere near the cavity of a bird.)
I'll cop to using Jiffy brand muffins. Why not? They're inexpensive (I think I paid 63 cents per package at Lunds, and the recipe requires two boxes), and it mixes up in, well, a jiff. The package's instructions call for an egg and milk; we had some half-and-half in the back of the refrigerator -- it was a miracle that it hadn't reached its expiration date -- and I used that instead of the skim we always keep on hand. Note to self: Always do this.
I didn't have the foresight to bake the muffins on Saturday, so I dried them out a bit by crumbling them on a sheet pan and baking them for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. For bread cubes, I pulled some out of the freezer -- leftovers from Thanksgiving's stuffing-a-thon -- and gave them a nice toasted texture by baking them for 10 minutes, also at 350 degrees.
I didn't do it last night, but sometimes I cut up bits of butter and toss it over the top of the stuffing before it goes in the oven. I usually add more herbs than the recipe calls for, as much as doubling the amount. Oh, and because the stuffing can run a little on the sweet side -- it's the corn muffins -- I occasionally flip the corn muffin/bread cube ratio.
That's the thing with this recipe: It's forgiving. Last night, post-shoveling, we served it with roast chicken, and it was delicious. As always.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: To toast pecans, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake 10 to 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until fragrant and lightly browned. Adapted from "At Home With Magnolia: Classic American recipes by the owner of Magnolia Bakery" by Allysa Torey (Wiley, $29.95).
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 c. (about 1 medium) chopped yellow onion
1 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. freshly chopped chives
1 tbsp. fresh chopped sage
1 tbsp. freshly chopped thyme
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 c. coarsely crumbled corn muffins (about 8 to 12 from your favorite recipe, or from a muffin mix such as Jiffy), left out, uncovered, at least overnight, to dry
2 c. cubed white bread, left out, uncovered, at least overnight, to dry
1 1/2 c. (about 2 medium) peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith apples
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans (see Note)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. chicken or turkey stock
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in chives, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and allow to come to room temperature. Add crumbled corn muffins, cubed bread, apples and pecans and lightly toss. Add eggs and chicken (or turkey) stock and toss until just combined.
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil, rotate pan and bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.