With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I have many things on my mind. First, I want to remind everyone to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving—it’s the time we all come together as a nation to celebrate and give thanks for our blessings. It’s a time to give thanks for what we have, not focus on what we don’t have.
This year we have invited relatives from afar to join us to celebrate Thanksgiving. I have 16 people showing up to stay with us and to dine with us. While many would see this is daunting, I embrace it. Why? Because we are lucky to be able to host the family! And how can I “Do it all”? I answer, “With a happy heart.” I think about the wonderful food I will make and how it will make everybody else feel warm, cozy, and loved.
One of the Thanksgiving foods that is always on the menu is stuffing or “dressing.” It’s an all-time favorite in my book. In fact, I prefer my plate to be two-thirds stuffing. Having grown up in an Italian-American household, the obvious ingredients were: Italian bread, sweet Italian sausage, pignolis (aka, pine nuts), and pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. There was no recipe; it was a feel sort of thing. With Heirloom Meals, I encourage people to somehow chronicle the process of making those family recipe that are not written down. We have such great tools available now—from iPhones to Flip cameras—that we can use to document the process and capture a wonderful moment with your relatives. Too many times we take them (recipes) for granted and expect that they may be written down somewhere. Even if they are, family recipes are frequently written as guides, leaving out an obvious step to the cook but perhaps not to the “user” of the recipe.
And, ironically, nowhere was our stuffing recipe written. So last year I took my own advice. My mom and I finally decided to write every step down and voilà—our recipe is preserved for posterity.
Here’s our recipe. What’s yours? Tell me in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win a set of four Straight Edge Tomato placemats and Linen White napkins from Pine Cone Hill–valued at $103! The contest runs from now until 11:59 p.m. EST on November 11th, 2012. View the full details.
Congratulations to the winner, Susanne from Georgia!
The Lanzetta/Murko Thanksgiving Stuffing
Everyone loves our stuffing. And I always get asked for the recipe. Keep in mind, it’s really a guide. You might like more sausage, more cheese, more Bell’s or less. You might want to use white bread or use the stale bread that you have in the freezer. Just taste it yourself and have a taster on hand to tweak it to your liking!
12 cups cubed Italian bread, toasted in the oven
1-2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage (try to find it in bulk, i.e., not in the casing, but you can just cut the casing off if you can’t find it in bulk)
1 stick butter
2 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
2 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
3 cups milk
2 bouillon cubes
1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Bell’s Seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cube and toast the bread the day before you make the stuffing. Store, once cooled, in a large mixing bowl, covered lightly with tin foil.
2. Sauté the sausage in a large skillet until golden. Add the sausage to the bread cubes. In the same skillet, melt the butter, add the onions and celery, and sauté until translucent. Add the onions and celery to bread cubes. In the same skillet, add the milk and bouillon cubes and heat until bouillon is dissolved and milk is warm. Pour over the bread cubes. At this point, you can mix together. The bread cubes will absorb the milk become a little soft. Add the pine nuts, parsley, Bell’s seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. This is when you will need to judge whether you need a little more milk or any additional seasonings, as you don’t want your stuffing to be dry.
3. Put the stuffing in an ovenproof casserole dish. You can make it ahead and refrigerate, but be sure that if it’s a glass dish, it comes to room temperature before you put it in the oven, or it could crack.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and heated throughout. Enjoy!