Your senses have a fabulous way of erasing the years. Listening to music from your high school or university days has the power to transport you back in time. The same is true for smell and taste. You cannot sniff the heavenly aroma of spiced apple cider and not think of Thanksgiving and Christmas. What about the taste of eggnog, shortbread cookies or cranberries…the same thing.
One of the ultimate time erasing tastes and smells for me, is that of homemade dressing. I cannot smell sage or summer savoury and not be transported back to my childhood. I used to sit at the table and watch my mom make her delicious dressing…the wonderful aroma emitting from the oven is like no other. To me, hands down, the best comfort food.
My mom never followed a recipe for her dressing (stuffing)…what’s the difference? I guess when you stuff it in the bird the dressing becomes stuffing…I don’t know. We (as in, me and my family) seem to use the words interchangeably. Anyway, I digress! Getting back to my mom and her dressing/stuffing. She never used a recipe…she learned how to make it at the knee of her mom and I learned it at the knee of my mom and my daughter has learned it at the knee of her mom…and so on and so on. That’s how many, if not most, family recipes are passed on through the generations.
Making dressing is NOT an exact science. It is not like baking where measurements need to be relatively dead on. Preparing recipes like dressing, pot roast, soups, stews, veges….are much more forgiving. So, feel free to improvise with this and make it your own.
Maybe one day, your version will be passed down through the generations too.
Steam or boil potatoes in a small amount of salted water until fork tender.
Chop onion, slice celery and add to a couple of tablespoons of melted butter. Cook over med/low heat until the onions are translucent and the celery is tender.
Cut one-half a loaf of day-old sage bread into cubes.
When potatoes are tender, drain and toss in some butter and mash.
Now you are going to start adding your herbs and spices. This is what celery seed and my wrinklely hand look like. Don’t use celery salt.
In my neck of the woods, Summer Savoury is usually packaged like this. I picked this up in the produce aisle of my grocery store but it was also available in the meat department and spice aisle.
Add herbs and spices to the mashed potatoes.
Add cubed bread to potato mixture, stir to combine.
Throw in a big handfull of dried cranberries.
Add sautéed onions and celery to potato/bread mixture.
Give it a big stir to combine all the ingredients.
Dump the potato/bread mixture into a well buttered 9″x 13″ dish.
I don’t have a photo of the cooked dressing fresh from the oven…the reason? All I can say is, in the excitement and hub bub of getting dinner on the table I completely forgot to snap a photo. I do, however, have a shot of the yummy dressing in its serving bowl!
- 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled (or not...remember, NOT an exact science!), cut into pieces and boiled or steamed until tender.
- ½ loaf of day old, unsliced, sage bread, cubed. ( If you cannot find sage bread, don't worry, just use a half loaf of a good quality bread and when adding dried herbs, add some ground sage to taste.)
- 3 or 4 ribs celery, diced
- 2 large onions, diced
- A handful of dried cranberries (optional)
- 5-6 Tbsp. butter (divided)
- 2 Tbsp. summer savoury
- 1 Tbsp. celery seed (not celery salt)
- Salt & pepper to taste.
- Put potatoes on to cook, boil/steam until tender, remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, chop onion and slice celery. Add a couple of tablespoons butter to saucepan, melt butter and add onions and celery. Saute until soft and slightly translucent.
- Cube sage bread, set aside
- When potatoes are fork tender, remove from heat and drain (if required). Add 3-4 Tbsp. butter and mash.
- Add seasonings and stir to combine. Keep tasting and adjusting seasoning to your own taste. Go a little lightly at first. Remember it is difficult to remove seasoning once added. Also, if making the night before eating, the seasonings tend to intensify while sitting.
- Add bread cubes, stir.
- Add celery/onion mixture, stir.
- Add cranberries, stir
- Pile into a well-greased 9" x 13 " pan, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven, for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Alternately, use to stuff a chicken or turkey at which time the dressing magically transforms into stuffing.
Remember not to cross contaminate the dressing by putting your hand in the turkey then back into the pot of dressing. It is better to remove to a separate dish what you feel you will need to stuff the bird. If you feel you may have contaminated the dressing, COOK IMMEDIATELY! and refrigerate after cooking.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask and I will do my very best to answer.
Dressing or Stuffing…what do you call it?