Each Thanksgiving for the past twenty-some years, it seems that the number of people who come to our Thanksgiving dinner grows. It’s a great dinner with a fun group, so I’m sure it’s not just because of the stuffing balls I make. Then again, I’ve been told a bunch that if I ever don’t make them, there will be serious consequences.
I’m happy to keep making them, because they’re really easy. It just takes excellent bread, a turkey, and a few other basic ingredients.
Let it be known that I’m firmly in the camp that believes the best way to roast a turkey is to do it sans stuffing and instead keep the “stuffing” on the side. If you prefer your stuffing on the inside of the bird, these ingredients work just fine too.
Note that you can turn these stuffing balls vegetarian by substituting the poultry stock with veg or mushroom stock and the turkey drippings with olive oil or any oil of your preference. That said, my one niece, a vegetarian, makes a single yearly dietary exception to eat these baked rounds of moist deliciousness. We all fully support her decision.
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Craig's Stuffing Balls Recipe
Makes about 8 3-inch stuffing balls. Have lots of guests or want great leftovers? Just double or triple the amounts.
2 loaves of sliced bread, cut into cubes (this year, I’m using organic SOFT WHITE from The Lancaster Food Company; our 100% WHOLE WHEAT and SPROUTED MULTIGRAIN make great whole-grain alternatives)
2 stalks diced celery
1 medium diced onion
Small bunch finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2 tsp minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3 - 4 minced fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 pound butter
16 ounces poultry stock (make your own or buy good-quality prepared)
1 egg (optional)
1/2 cup turkey drippings
Salt and pepper to taste
While your turkey is roasting, sauté the onions and celery in the butter on medium heat until soft. I use a stockpot to make incorporating all the ingredients easier. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs. Add the bread cubes and lightly toss to evenly absorb the butter and distribute the herbs. It’s okay if the bread cubes break up a little, but be gentle.
Gently stir the stock into the bread cube mixture, still on medium heat. If you choose to include the egg for extra richness (I do), beat it into the poultry stock first. When fully incorporated, turn off the heat, cover, and let stand until cool enough to handle.
When cooled, form about 8 3-inch stuffing balls, being careful to pack them just enough so they hold together. Arrange them in a greased casserole dish or cast iron skillet. About a half hour or so before your turkey is done, remove a half-cup of the pan drippings and spoon evenly over the stuffing balls. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.
It’s one of those recipes that you can’t go wrong with. Like more butter? Add it. Don’t like sage? Skip it. You really can’t mess it up.
Have a favorite Thanksgiving stuffing recipe? We’d love for you to share it….