Help Me Cook This: Grandma’s Stuffing

A recipe for Grandma’s Stuffing, a classic Thanksgiving bread dressing made with giblets, milk, turkey stock, onions, celery and herbs.

A recipe for Grandma's Stuffing, a classic Thanksgiving bread dressing made with giblets, milk, turkey stock, onions, celery and herbs. | foxeslovelemons.com

You know how you hear about people taking recipes to their grave? My husband’s grandma (my grandma-in-law?) seriously did that with her Thanksgiving bread stuffing (we know we’re supposed to say “dressing,” but we still always call if “stuffing” even if it’s not stuffed in the bird. ). It was the best stuffing in the whole wide world, and I consider myself a stuffing aficionado, as it’s tied with mashed potatoes for my favorite holiday food. It had a simple, comforting flavor and was toasted to perfection.

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Try as we might, we never got Mary Ellen to give up the recipe. Without fail, she made it for us every year (even, sweetly, one year when she was too sick to eat Thanksgiving dinner herself). Knowing our time with her was getting shorter, we asked after the recipe for years, and she would only reply “well, I just soak the bread in milk, really.” That’s the only detail she ever gave up! That the bread was soaked in milk. I mean, I guess it’s better than no details. I thought that maybe she would write the recipe down, wrap it in a gift box and present it as a wedding present to Jeff and I, but that didn’t happen.

So, ever since she passed, it’s been my mission to try to recreate this recipe, even though I know it’ll never be as good as hers.

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Using some educated guesses based on what Jeff’s family and I can remember about the flavor of Grandma’s stuffing, along with reader comments and e-mails over the last few years, I’ve constructed and continually revised the recipe you see below. At this point, I think I’m *pretty* close to honoring the flavors of Mary Ellen’s stuffing, but I’m always open to suggestions on how to improve it.

Does your family have a stuffing or dressing recipe similar to Mary Ellen’s? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

A recipe for Grandma's Stuffing, a classic Thanksgiving bread dressing made with giblets, milk, turkey stock, onions, celery and herbs. | foxeslovelemons.com

P.S. These photos were taken during one of my early attempt’s at recreating Grandma’s stuffing. I think I added too much liquid on that try, and the stuffing came out kind of dense. I’ve seen improved and updated the recipe to be way better. Don’t judge this recipe by these photos, please 🙂

Grandma Mary Ellen's Stuffing

A recipe for Grandma’s Stuffing, a classic Thanksgiving bread dressing made with giblets, milk, turkey stock, onions, celery and herbs.

Ingredients:

  • Giblets from 1 turkey (except the neck)
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 loaf (24 ounces) hearty white sliced bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) unseasoned cubed stuffing (the dried cubes in a bag)
  • 3 cups turkey stock, plus additional if necessary
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried sage

Directions:

  1. Place giblets and 1 cup milk in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide torn white bread between 2 rimmed baking pans. Transfer to oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Set toasted bread aside; leave oven on at 350 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, place eggs in large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cubed stuffing and remaining 1-1/4 cups milk; toss to combine.
  4. Melt 8 tablespoons butter in small pot or microwave-safe dish.
  5. Spray large baking dish with cooking spray. Remove giblets from milk; discard milk. Finely chop giblets.
  6. Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped giblets and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion, celery and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Add poultry seasoning and sage; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Add toasted white bread, melted butter and giblet mixture to bowl with cubed stuffing and milk. Toss until well combined. If mixture seems dry, add additional stock 1/2 cup at a time. Taste for seasoning; adjust with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Transfer to oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 minutes longer or until top of stuffing is golden brown.
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