Tuesday, October 26, 2010

172. Sage Dressing, Traditional

A Thanksgiving turkey was something we waited for every year, but on the day my mother made the dressing for that turkey, we all hovered nearby just hoping she would give us a pre-dinner taste. For me, that sage dressing was more than herbs, bread and buttery vegetables...it was the starting point for our feast and the celebration of the things for which we were thankful.

I usually made that same sage dressing every year for decades, but a few times I varied from the known and actually tried stuffing recipes. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I hated the other dressings...they just did not taste right.

Not only did I discover that great traditions should not be messed with, I also found that I actually needed my mother's sage dressing on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, as those ingredients are prepared and their fragrances float out of the kitchen, I am taken back to my childhood and remember all the reasons that Thanksgiving Day is so special to me. In honor of my mother's sage dressing, today's recipe details how she created it.

Note: I do not stuff the turkey with the dressing, but put it in foil and heat it. Turkey juices are drizzled over the hot, savory mixture and blended together to make it moist and flavorful. This dressing may be made ahead, frozen and vacuum sealed. Sage dressing goes well with many other meals besides turkey.

*Bread ends and stale slices many be frozen, vacuum sealed and saved for later use in this dressing recipe.

Mother's Sage Dressing

¾ C chopped sweet onion
1 ½ C chopped celery (leaves and stalks)
1 C butter (I always use real butter, you may substitute margarine if necessary)
1 tsp salt (add 1/2 salt to start)
10-15 slices good quality white bread, torn into small pieces
1 tsp sage, crushed
1 tsp thyme, crushed
½ tsp poultry seasoning
½ tsp pepper blend

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and stir occasionally until onion is transparent and celery is tender. Remove pan from heat and add half of the bread pieces to the butter mixture. Mix well and pour into a large bowl. Add remaining bread pieces to the pan to soak up any remaining butter and stir well. Add these to the mixture already in the bowl and combine gently so all the bread becomes infused with some of the butter. Add 1/2 tsp salt to start. Add remaining seasonings and mix gently but well. Taste dressing and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

 Place stuffing mixture on a large piece of foil and seal. Heat packet of dressing in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot. Drizzle with turkey juices and mix well to moisten the bread pieces.

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