Old-Fashioned Bread Dressing – we just call it Dressing in our family and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. Grandma Betty used to make it half with oysters and half without. My husband’s family did the same thing. Since we moved to Florida and have no family here, it’s up to me to make all of the traditional dishes our kids enjoyed at the big family dinner at our grandparents’ house up north. Of all the wonderful, iconic fare associated with the holiday, this is the one side Jimmie and I can’t live without. The boys love it, too, so I have to make a huge batch so there will be plenty of leftovers. 🙂
The secret to an awesome dressing is… Sage, turkey stock, AND chicken stock. It doesn’t matter if I cook the turkey in a bag or a roasting pan, I save every drop of liquid and split it between the dressing and Old Fashioned Dumplings. I only use chicken broth as a back-up if I feel the bread isn’t moist enough with the stock I have on hand.
My mother-in-law taught me to microwave the onions and celery for 5 minutes before adding them to the bread. It ensures that they’ll be nice and tender when the dressing is done. Tear the bread up a day or two before Thanksgiving so it can dry out as much as possible. I usually don’t remember to do it until Wednesday afternoon, the bread is rarely ever completely dried, but the dressing always tastes wonderful. Every time I walk by the table though, I give the bread pieces a quick toss/turn-over. That’s three whole loaves of bread spread out on the table in the pic below. Gram never used as much as I do, but she never had leftovers.
Old-Fashioned Bread Dressing
- 3 loaves of white bread, torn into pieces & dried for a day or two
- 1/2 the broth from a large roasted turkey (hopefully about 2 cups)
- 2 large containers chicken stock, more or less (+ part of 1 chicken broth, if necessary)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4-5 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, more or less to taste
- 1-2 pints of cleaned oysters, optional (more or less to suit your tastes)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a large roasting pan with oil. Pile the bread in the pan.
Microwave the onion and celery for about 3-5 minutes on high. Spread over the top of the bread.
Mix the turkey broth and 2 cartons of chicken broth together with the sage, salt, and pepper. Pour evenly over the top of the bread. Stir the celery and onion in by turning over throughout with a large spoon, soaking all of the bread pieces in the broth. If it appears too dry, add broth until the the liquid is standing just beneath the top layer of bread. Press the back of the spoon into the bread to see if it’s just barely soppy.
If using oysters, stir 1 pint into half the dressing at one end of the pan or 2 pints into the whole batch.
Bake in oven for about an hour, give or take 10-15 minutes depending on the level of moistness/dryness you prefer.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating! 😊