As I’ve stated before, my mother really didn’t like to cook. Yet, she made sure our family of 6 ate a home-cooked meal every single night and sat down at the table together at the end of the day (except for Friday which was, of course, pizza night.) When I went to college, my tastes in food and interest in cooking soared to a much more adventurous place than my mother’s would ever go. But despite that, my mother taught me invaluable lessons in the kitchen, from how to store food, how to make food stretch farther, etc. One of the greatest was using dried herbs and granulates while cooking.
There are so many options for these dried spices and our apartment in full of them. They last much longer than fresh herbs and don’t require any kind of chopping, which makes them perfect for busy families, weeknight meals and, especially, experimenting. They can help you save a dish that’s missing something or guide you to creating a brand new recipe. I am incredibly grateful to my Mom for introducing me to their wonders.
This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving Day with James’ family and we had a second Thanksgiving with my family on Black Friday. I made stuffing for both Thanksgivings and for my family I made my Mom’s traditional bread stuffing, which consists of all dried herbs and granulated onion powder. It’s a simple dish and absolutely delicious – all the flavors you expect from Thanksgiving without any of the work. When splitting up the side dish duties this year, we realized that my Mom’s “bread dressing” and the family’s famous “rice dressing” had almost the exact same ingredient – one has bread and butter, the other has rice and bacon. Otherwise, all the ingredients are the same. Why mess with perfection?
I did experiment a little bit, of course. I increased the butter by… 150%, which frankly was a little overkill. But below I give you the recipe that I think will come out just right.
Reenie's Bread Dressing
16 slices Arnold’s Whole Wheat Bread (one loaf)
8 TBL butter (1 stick) – 6 TBL melted, 2 TBL cut into small chunks
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 & 1/2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Melt 6 TBL of butter. Keep remaining 2 TBL in refrigerator until step 8.
- Cut or tear bread into chunks.
- Mix all dried spices together.
- Pour half of melted butter onto bread and toss to coat. Pour remaining butter and toss again so butter is as evenly distributed as possible.
- Immediately after, while butter is still wet, sprinkle dried spices while tossing so coating is even.
- Add 1 & 1/2 cup of chicken stock to moisten bread.
- Pour dressing into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Cut remaining 2 TBL butter into small chunks and distribute on the top of the casserole. (The butter doesn’t need to be cold, but it helps when handling with your fingers!)
- Bake in oven for 30 – 45 minutes until top is crisp.
Procedure with anecdotes and pictures:
Unfortunately I lost a lot of my pictures, so I don’t have any visual illustration of mixing the dressing. I hope my description above will suffice!
Mom loved to keep Arnold’s Whole Wheat Bread in the house and that’s what the bread dressing was always made from as well. I made sure to pick that up for this dish as well, but I’m sure any wheat bread would be great.
Another wonderful feature of this recipe is that you don’t need to wait for the bread to get stale – it can come right out of the bag! That really saves on time and prep.
I find it’s easier to cut the bread with a bread knife than to tear into chunks with my hands. I was able to cut four slices at a time, which made it really fast. I found that cutting length-wise first made it easier to hold the slices together as I cut.
Dotting the stuffing with butter is something I just learned in this past month from Bon Appetit and it yielded great results – lots of crunchy, buttery pieces for everyone to enjoy, giving contrast to the soft pieces buried underneath. I totally recommend it – what’s 2 more tablespoons of butter on Thanksgiving?