A yummy, buttery mess

November 19, 2008|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

When my mother wrote down the recipe for her stuffing, which since childhood I've considered the best thing about Thanksgiving, she left out a few details.

Like the amount of melted butter. How much? I'd ask her as a young adult, trying to re-create this taste of home on my own, far away.

"A lot," she'd say.

And how much sage?

"Tons," she'd reply. "You can never have enough."

On other aspects of the recipe - we never were told where it came from - Mom was a stickler. "It's beef broth," she'd call back to remind me. "Don't make the mistake of using chicken. And white bread."

When she made it, the stuffing was a simple, buttery, guilty-pleasure mess - the wet kind that you can mush onto a sandwich of leftovers. Technically, it was a dressing, because she abhorred the idea of cooking anything inside the bird. But we stuffed ourselves with it, so that's the name that stuck.

In the five years she's been gone, I've done food-editor things to the recipe that might have made her cringe. I wrote down the amount of butter, made the bread sourdough, decided to cook the veggies first, even added a little garlic. But one thing remains the same.

When my dad boards the plane to visit us for Thanksgiving, he'll carry zippered bags full of the fresh sage that still flourishes in the garden she created. "How much should I bring?" he asks every year.

"Tons," I tell him.

pat's sage stuffing

(serves 8)

1 tablespoon butter

1 large white onion, chopped into a small dice

1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cubed celery

2 loaves sourdough bread, cubed and lightly toasted in the oven (but not tough)

1 1/2 cups beef stock, warmed

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup fresh sage, torn and trimmed (or, of course, more)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute in butter for 1 to 2 minutes to release flavors, then add celery. Saute another few minutes, tossing vegetables, then remove from heat.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl (if they fill the bowl, divide into 2 bowls). Pour beef stock a little at a time over the bread, mixing gently so that bread cubes are evenly moistened. Add vegetables and mix well, then pour the melted 10 tablespoons butter over the top and mix again, gently, with sage.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes, covered in foil throughout. For a crisp top, heat the broiler, remove foil and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the bread does not burn.

Courtesy of Kate Shatzkin

Per serving: : 623 calories, 19 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 92 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 890 milligrams sodium

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