So Thanksgiving dressings are actually a source of some controversy in my little family. My Mama’s family has always made the cornbread dressing, my Daddy’s family always had light bread dressing, and my Aunt Carole (Daddy’s sister) married into an Italian family (and oh, dear Lord, are we fortunate in that … from much more than just a culinary standpoint) so they make a fabulous meat dressing. My children were exposed to all of these, and so my son prefers the light bread, my daughter prefers the cornbread, and I really like the meat dressing. So I always made three dressings on Thanksgivings we spent at home with no extended family.
Also, as to whether it should be called dressing or stuffing …. there are tons of websites dedicated to this age-old argument. My reasoning about it is simple: stuffing gets stuffed somewhere, dressing does not.
This lightbread dressing is simple and fabulous. I’ve adapted it just a tiny bit bit (more herbs) from the way my Nana made it.
- 1 cubed loaf of day old white bread (cube it the day before you’re going to make it and spread the cubes on as many baking sheets as are needed. Cover lightly with kitchen towels, and every now and then give them a little stir so you don’t end up with bread that is still soft on the unexposed-to-the-air bottom.)
- 2 cups milk (whole milk. Screw that watered down “diet” stuff. You’re seriously not saving many calories and you’re totally losing out on flavor and richness.)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1-2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence (if you can’t find this mix in your grocery store, it consists of savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and fennel seed. I’d leave out the fennel seed and just use a sprinkle of the others.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place bread cubes, onions and seasonings in a large bowl. Toss to mix well.
Heat the milk and butter until just steaming, but not boiling. Add to the bread mixture, a little at a time, tossing cubes to moisten between additions. Taste for flavor and adjust seasonings if necessary.
If you’re stuffing this in the bird, leave it a little more dry. If baking, turn out into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350° until nicely browned.