When you think about Thanksgiving dinner, bread is a major component. Not only the compulsory dinner rolls, but also in the stuffing. Today I am sharing recipes for stuffing made with bread and cornbread plus yeast rolls and biscuits so you have lots to choose from. You can never have too much bread, LOL. Online culinary arts college degrees are an option for those who want to learn more about cooking.
Today is an homage to some of America’s finest women chefs. I am showcasing recipes from some of the best bakers that I admire and adore. I have had the honor of meeting most of them and they are just as delightful and sweet as you would hope they would be. They will, no doubt, become favorites of yours as well. Doyennes Shirley Corriher, Nathalie Dupree and Paula Deen guide us with southern grace to baking nirvana. And to make sure we have equal representation ;o) we have two New England ladies, Sara Moulton and Dorie Greenspan, who make the scariest recipe seem totally possible and even easy – the mark of true genius. They all have incredible cookbooks that should be in everyone’s library. I refer to them often and consider these ladies some of my most revered baking tutors.
Brioche is one of the most amazing breads in any chef’s repertoire. Full of butter, it is the thing that dreams are made of. You can make it into a loaf or form into rolls. If you make a loaf or two early it is fantastic in the stuffing. If you prefer a really traditional dinner roll, you can try the towering Soft White Dinner Rolls. The thing I like about yeast rolls is that you can make them the day before and put them in the refrigerator for a slow, cold rise. Then when the turkey comes out of the oven and is resting, you pop the rolls in and that heavenly scent will fill the house.
If working with yeast scares you, you can try making biscuits instead. It will take last minute work, but they come together in a snap. You can make the classic buttermilk variety or go for a pure cream delight. And with the guidance of Natalie Dupree’s hints you will bypass all of the common mistakes people make and come out with perfect golden brown biscuits ready to sop up the turkey gravy.
Depending on the part of America you are from you may have grown up eating stuffing with sausage, oysters, fruits, bread, rice or cornbread. I am including my recipe for a standard bread stuffing with apples and pecans. Feel free to add any other ingredients that will make it “taste like home” for you.
I have included recipes for both bread and cornbread dressings, but in the spirit of bipartisanship, I also have a variation that combines the two. It is my favorite and makes a wonderful option when you have a lot of people coming for dinner. That way you don’t have to make two different kinds!
Do you know the difference between stuffing and dressing? No, this is not a trick question – they are not synonymous. While made from the same ingredients, stuffing is cooked inside a bird while dressing is cooked alongside in another container. This year you can dazzle your guests with this Thanksgiving trivia!
These days there are very few chefs who would suggest you stuff the turkey because it just isn’t safe. Bacteria grows quickly and by the time the stuffing has reached its safe temperature of 180°F, the turkey will be overcooked and dry. So no matter how tempted you are, please cook your dressing on the side. If you MUST cook the stuffing inside the bird, heat it first in the microwave on High for 8 minutes or until it reaches 130°F. Then use a spoon to place it inside the turkey and immediately put it in the hot oven to roast.
Another way to make stuffing so that it remains moist is to use your slow cooker. Cook it on High for 30 minutes then lower the temperature to Low and cook for an additional 3 to 4 hours. For extra flavor cook the turkey neck with the dressing. The slow cooker can be used to keep the dressing hot during dinner. This method also frees up space in the oven for other dishes.
Besides how you cook it, there is another important difference. That is the addition of eggs. Hotly debated, I believe the answer lies in the moisture content. Because stuffing is cooked inside the bird and absorbs some of its juices, you don’t need the eggs to bind the ingredients together. However, if you are cooking it in a dish separate from the turkey, it can definitely benefit from the additional binding, moisture and richness that come from adding the eggs. The biggest challenge is how to evenly distribute them. That is why I suggest you whisk them into the stock before tossing it with the other ingredients.
For a fun alternative way to serve the dressing, try baking scoops of it in muffin cups. There is a lot more of the crunchy top for everyone to enjoy. Children, in particular, will love the individual servings. They slice beautifully for turkey sandwiches the next day and they are just so darned cute on the plate!
If you are not a seasoned Thanksgiving dinner maker, I strongly urge you not to try to make everything from scratch yourself. You will wind up exhausted and won’t be able to enjoy the holiday. Stick with recipes you are comfortable with, those you have tried before and add a few new ones for variety if you like. Dole out responsibilities to your guests to ease the burden of making everything yourself.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you have the time to sit down and enjoy your company. There is a rule in our house that if I cook the meal someone else has to do the dishes. Luckily The Artist and sometimes our guests are more than happy to do so. I suggest you adopt that rule. After all, it is your holiday too! Enjoy!
- 12 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes from any artisan loaf (cut off crusts before cubing) about 1-3/4 lb
- 8 oz bulk seasoned sausage or bacon, crumbled or chopped, optional
- 1 stick butter (4 oz), melted
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1-1/2 cup chopped celery
- 3 large Gala or Fuji apples, cored and diced
- 3 cups pecans or almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, optional
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning, optional
- 3 lg eggs, beaten slightly
- 3 cups turkey stock, plus more if needed (see recipe Here)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish. Set aside.
- Toast bread cubes on baking sheet until crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage or bacon until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. When cool add to bread cubes in mixing bowl.
- In the same pan, melt butter in add onions and celery; sauté until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add apples and sauté 2 minutes. Pour mixture over bread and bacon. Add herbs. Toss well to combine. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. (Can be made and refrigerated 1 day ahead to this point). Stir in pecans.
- Mix eggs into stock and whisk until completely incorporated. Add to dressing, tossing to blend completely. Add more stock if needed to have it thoroughly moistened. Spoon into lightly greased baking dish.
- Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover, bake until top is crisp, about 20 minutes longer.
- Yield: about 8 servings
- 50/50 VARIATION:
- What I love to do is substitute toasted cornbread cubes (see recipe below) for half the bread in this recipe. You get the earthy flavor of the corn and tang of sourdough bread in every bite and the bright yellow color is a beautiful contrast to the other ingredients. Be sure to lightly toast the cornbread cubes on a baking sheet until golden and then let cool. This helps remove some of the moisture and ensures that they won’t fall apart as easily. This is the dressing I now make every year – it has become our newest heritage tradition!
- 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 2-1/4 cups cornmeal
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter 9×9×2-inch metal baking pan.
- Whisk buttermilk, eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in cornmeal, then gently stir in melted butter. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
- Bake cornbread until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cornbread in pan on rack.
- To prep for stuffing: Remove from baking pan. Trim and discard tough edges. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Store in a zip-top plastic bag.
- DO AHEAD: Cornbread can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, cover, and store at room temperature.
- You can serve any leftover cornbread with whipped honey butter the next day at breakfast or for an afternoon snack.
- Yield: Makes about 12 cups of 1/2-inch cubes cornbread
- Day old cornbread, crumbled (from recipe above)
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 tbsp butter
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sage (optional)
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning (optional)
- 5 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- Place crumbled cornbread in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large skillet, saute the chopped celery and onion in butter until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour mixture over cornbread. Add the stock, sage, and poultry seasoning, and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add beaten eggs and mix well.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until dressing is done, about 45 minutes.
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 1 packet "highly active" active dry yeast; or 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 7/8 to 1-1/8 cups lukewarm water* (NOTE: 1/8 cup = 2 tbsp)
- 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1-1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- If you're using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tbsp of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
- Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
- While the dough is rising, lightly grease two 9" round cake pans, or a 9" x 13" pan. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom, then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
- Place eight rolls in each of the round cake pans (or all 16 rolls in the 9" x 13" pan), spacing them evenly; they won't touch one another. Cover the pan(s) with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise till they're very puffy, and have reached out and touched one another, about 1 hour. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the rolls until they're a deep golden brown on top, and lighter on the sides, about 25 minutes.
- Remove the rolls from the oven, and after 2 or 3 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. They'll be hot and delicate, so be careful. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
- *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
- 1/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 1/4 cup warm whole milk (110°F to 115°F)
- 3 tsp active dry yeast (empty two envelopes into a bowl and measure)
- 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 tbsp cubes
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp water (for egg wash)
- Combine 1/4 cup warm water and warm milk in bowl of heavy-duty mixer. Sprinkle yeast over the top and stir to moisten evenly. Let stand until yeast dissolves and becomes foamy, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour and salt to yeast mixture. Blend at medium-low with the paddle attachment until mixture becomes shaggy, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat until dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 tbsp at a time, beating until blended after each addition, about 4 minutes (dough will be soft and silky). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and climbs the paddle, 8 to 9 minutes. This effectively kneads the dough, developing the gluten, without adding any additional flour that can make the dough tough.
- Lightly butter large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat entirely with butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1-1/2 hours. The top of the refrigerator works well, or you can turn the oven on for 1 minute then turn it off and set dough in oven to rise.
- When doubled in volume, gently deflate dough by lifting around edges, then letting dough fall back into bowl, turning bowl and repeating as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill, deflating dough in the same way every 30 minutes until dough stops rising, about 2 hours. Chill overnight.
- The following day, butter 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; cut each piece into thirds. Roll each small piece between palms into ball. Place 3 balls, side-by-side, in each prepared cup (dough will fill cup).
- Place muffin pan in warm draft-free area; cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise until light and almost doubled, above the top rim of muffin cups, about an hour. After 30 minutes, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Fully preheating the oven guarantees the rolls will bake properly.
- Place muffin pan on rimmed baking sheet. Gently brush egg glaze over risen dough, being careful that glaze does not drip between dough and pan (which can limit the final rising in the oven). Bake brioches until golden brown, tenting with foil if browning too quickly, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer pan to wire rack. Cool 10 minutes. Remove brioches from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour (if self-rising flour is not available, combine 1 cup AP flour, tsp salt, and 1-1/2 tsp baking powder)
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp shortening
- 7/8 cup buttermilk (1 cup minus 2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray.
- Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, the soda, salt, and sugar. With your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the shortening into the flour mixture until there are no shortening lumps larger than a small pea.
- Stir in the buttermilk and let the dough stand 2 or 3 minutes. It will be very wet. This dough is so wet that you cannot shape it in the usual manner. Pour the remaining cup of flour onto a plate or pie pan.
- Flour your hands well. Spoon or scoop with a small ice cream scoop a biscuit-sized lump of wet dough into the flour and sprinkle some flour on top. With your hands, shape the biscuit into a soft round, gently shaking off any excess flour. The dough is so soft that it will not hold its shape. As you shape each biscuit, place it into an 8-inch round cake pan, pushing the biscuits tightly against each other so that they will rise up rather than spread out. Continue shaping the biscuits in this manner using all the dough.
- Brush the biscuits with the melted butter and place on the oven shelf just above the center. Increase the oven temperature to 475°F and bake 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool a minute or two in the pan.
- Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits: Stir 2 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or mint into the dough just before adding the buttermilk. Shape and bake as usual.
- Yield: 12 to 18 biscuits
Southern Biscuit Tips
From Natalie Dupree
The right flour. The best flour is a soft-wheat flour. These primarily Southern flours have less gluten than bread flour and national brand all-purpose flours. Names of flours best for biscuits are Southern Biscuit, White Lily, and Martha White. These are historically “winter wheat” flours, which are “softer,” having less gluten, and bleached, producing a lighter biscuit. Every flour is different every day according to the moisture in the air that has permeated the flour, so minor adjustments are necessary.
Self-rising vs. all-purpose flours. Self-rising flour has baking powder and salt added. All-purpose flours need these added. Some people add even more rising products to make an even lighter biscuit.
Fats – The lightest fats are lard and shortening, followed by margarine. Butter produces the least light product, but gives the most flavor. Some people combine two fats to come up with a product that gives some lightness and some flavor.
Milk – All purpose milk (AKA “Sweet” milk) and buttermilk act differently with baking powder, and different flavor. Powdered milks of either kind are frequently effective substitutes for the liquid kind.
A wet dough – A “dry dough” will not be as tender as a wet dough. Overworking the dough, particularly if it is dry, will cause the dough to be tough. (Manipulation is an enemy of tenderness in biscuits and pie crusts.) To confound you, some manipulation IS necessary. Finding the “just right” amount is a matter of practice.
Shaping the dough – There are numerous ways to shape a dough.
1. Flour hands, pull a biscuit-sized piece of dough from the mass, dip the exposed (wet) part of the dough in flour, then roll in one palm while turning and shaping with the other. Give the dough a final pat.
2. Roll or pat the dough out then cut with a biscuit cutter, being careful not to twist the cutter. For a biscuit that splits open easily, fold the dough in half before cutting.
3. My friend Shirley Corriher uses a non-stick or floured ice-cream scoop, dipping it into the flour and scooping out the dough.
4. Use a large spoon and drop the biscuits onto a greased pan.
Pans – You can use a greased cake pan, filling it with biscuits. This enables the sides of the pan to keep the biscuits from spreading out and thinning. Using the same pan over and over, daily, enables the pan to become seasoned and removes the necessity to grease it. A dark pan tends to burn quicker than a light one.
Placement of biscuits on pan – placing biscuits close to each other keeps the sides from browning, making the biscuits more tender, and allows them to prop each other up. Separating them on the pan makes a crisper biscuit, with the biscuits tending to spread and become thinner.
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 to 3 cups heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in enough of the cream to just form a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently several times and divide into 4 equal balls. Pat out each ball to make a flat 3-inch round on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until pale golden. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly.