Yield: enough to stuff a 12-pound bird; double the recipe for a 16-18 pound turkey, and you may have to triple it for a 22 pounder!
- 1 medium loaf day-old good white sourdough bread, with crust
- 3-4 stalks celery
- 1 large onion
- 1 large, or 2 small tart apples (such as Granny Smith or pippin)
- 1/3 cup dried currants
- 1 cup cooked, peeled chestnuts (optional) (see below)
- 4 Tbs. butter
- 2 Tbs. Bells or other good poultry seasoning
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
You have the choice of cooking the stuffing in the turkey, or baking it separately in a casserole or some of each if you have stuffing-lovers who want more. If baked separately, you need to add an extra cup chicken broth to the stuffing for moisture. Bake loosely covered with foil for forty-five minutes to one hour, and then uncover to brown top for an additional 15 minutes. You can baste it with a little of the turkey drippings for added flavor.
Cube bread. Dice celery and onion. Peel and dice apple. Rough chop chestnuts. Melt butter and oil in a large skillet. Add onion and celery and cook for a few minutes, until onion is translucent and limp. Add 1 Tbs. poultry seasoning and mix. Add apple, currants and chestnuts and mix. Add bread and mix until bread is thoroughly coated with seasonings. Continue to cook and stir for a few minutes, until bread begins to brown. Add pepper and salt to taste, and if needed, sprinkle on more poultry seasoning to achieve a good flavor. Deglaze with a cup of broth, stirring to release stuck bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the flame.
If baking stuffing in turkey, stuff loosely immediately before cooking. Never stuff a turkey in advance, as it can cause serious illness from bacteria naturally present in the turkey, which will multiply in the presence of the warm stuffing; for the same reason, remove stuffing entirely before carving the turkey.
Alternative ingredients: Substitute pecans or walnuts for chestnuts. Add crumbled, cooked sausage. Leave out currants, or add chopped dried apricots or peaches instead. Leave out apple, and add crisp bacon, lightly poached oysters, and some fresh thyme. Instead of plain bread, substitute day-old cornbread or cooked wild rice.
How to cook and peel fresh chestnuts: Make an “X” on one side of each nut, being sure to cut through the inner skin to the flesh of the nut. Soak in warm water for 1/2 hour. Roast in a 350°F. oven for 15-20 minutes, until the shells curl up at the X. They are easiest to peel when very hot, and easier still when there are lots of people peeling at once. Prepared chestnuts are also available canned and in soft packaging (both are expensive, and quite good, and save you a ton of effort!).