Between now and Thanksgiving, you’ll have plenty of time to stockpile all the goods you’ll need. I’m going to start you with the stuffing.

So many places have box stuffings or premade mixes. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve sampled out about half a dozen turkeys over the last few weeks, and all of them have some variation on an in-the-bird stuffing.

Box stuffings (save for Stove Top) are tasty and always a hit at the Holidays, and most require little more than adding a little water or broth. However, if you want to make your own, here’s my helpful hint that will save you money:

All the bread you go through? Save the heels, the odds and ends, and start freezing the weird pieces, a slice or two at a time, until you have a good loaf’s worth. If you don’t make it that far, you can make up the stagger with whatever savory bread you have lying around. Tip#1: Crusts are good. A couple days before the big day, pull them out, dice them into small pieces, and leave them to sit on your countertop or on top of the fridge. You know those fancy multigrain stuffings you see in the store? Congratulations. You now have a melange of different croutons to use. also, you can season them with a little oil, salt, pepper, dry sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley, throw them in the oven for about ten minutes to crisp, and you have a quick base for your stuffing.

Chop a stalk or two of celery, one or two onions, (Save the tops and ends) add some golden raisins. Chop an apple. Saute them. Toss it all together with half a stick of melted butter. Add some walnuts, and enough liquid (veg, chicken stock, or even water) to moisten, but not make it overly spongy. If you’re doing your stuffing out of the bird, you want a stuffing that’s a little more moist, but one that when you put it in the oven  for about 45 minutes to an hour will give you a nice crusty top. That’s it. Bake it at 350-375 until the top is golden brown. If you’re doing the stuffing in the bird, a lot of moisture will come from the turkey itself, as well as flavor.

Tip #2: If you’re planning ahead and doing this the day before, pull the giblets out, cover them with water and the odds and ends from the celery/onion mixture, and let them simmer for about an hour. Boom. Quick stock to flavor your stuffing.

This is a general recipe for a Turkey Stuffing with fruits of the season. If you want other stuff in there, put it in. Chestnuts can be done just as easily as walnuts or pecans, and if you want a stuffing with sausage, your local butcher will have some delicious options for you. They will probably also have Jimmy Dean. If you can help it, try to have a holiday dinner without inviting Jimmy Dean to the table. Yes, his manners are polite, but his sausage is all fat.

Tip #3- Last tip on the stuffing: You can make it a day ahead of time and reheat it the day of service. The holiday is about the food, but it’s more about having the pleasure of the company of friends and/or family. Nobody will care if it’s not piping hot. So many things will go in and out of the oven on Thursday that not a single person will have the right to dare badmouth all the cook’s hard work. If they do, they’re simply not invited next year, but that still doesn’t leave a place for Jimmy Dean.


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