Even though we have just passed the summer solstice when the days are longest, it will seem like no time at all until we are in the winter solstice when the days are shortest by that time we will have put he gardens to bed and be eagerly awaiting the seed catalogs in preparation for next year’s garden. What got me to thinking so far in advance was the fact that if I didn’t start to write the holiday recipes soon, there would not be the time enough to get them into the paper.
This short series of articles will deal with roasting a 12-15 pound turkey and the stuffing that makes it moist and delicious. Even though I have been cooking this recipe for over 50 years, this is the first time that it has ever been written down. Of all the recipes in all the articles written by me, this one has far and away received the most accolades.
As noted, this recipe will be close to filling the cavity, front and rear, of a 12-15 pound turkey. If there is any left over after stuffing the bird, wrap excess in aluminum foil, seal tightly, and bake with the turkey for an hour or so, depending on quantity.
To make the stuffing, start the day before you are going to cook the turkey, with a large 6-8 quart ceramic or stainless bowl. If you have a bread machine, bake two loaves as follows: 1/3 cup warm water; 2 tablespoons oleo; 1 jumbo egg; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon sugar; 2 cups bread flour and 2 teaspoons Quick Rise Yeast per loaf. Do not double this recipe, but make two separate loaves. After the loaves have been baked, allow to sit on a cooling rack for at least 24 hours so that it will cut properly. If you are using store bought bread. You will need about 1 1/2 one pound loaves of white bread that has been allowed to sit out overnight to become firm.
Using a sharp knife, remove the crust of the bread in a thin slice all the way around. Cut the loaf into 1/2 inch slices and cut these slices into 1/2 inch slices and cut these slices into 1/2 inch cubes. Place all of these bead cubes into your large bowl.
The next item to add to the stuffing is probably the most important. It gives the mixture the delightful aroma while baking, and the delicious taste while eating. Add 2 (two) appx. 3 3/4 oz. cans smoked oysters. Be careful when opening the cans not to spill the oil. Empty both tins directly on top of the bread cubes, and use the dry cubes to wipe our the clinging remnants of oil.
As we go through this recipe, you may think that it is a bit pricey to make, but keep in mind that we only bake one or so turkeys a year, and seldom will you have a meal of this perfection.
Purchase a complete celery plant at the store and disassemble it at home, rinsing carefully. When buying celery for this recipe, try to find a package that has as man leaves as possible. Since they give the dressing a lighter texture. Take the rinsed celery and remove all leaves and small stems. Mince these and add all to the bread. Now, using inside, tender stalks of celery, split some lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Mince these tender strips until you have about 2/3 cups celery. Ad to leaves and bread. A word about mincing. Do not use a food processor for this recipe as we do not want to release the juices in the vegetables - yet.
The next ingredient is a large onion. Mince the onion until the pieces are the size of large rice grains. Add to the mixture.
The next item to go into the mixture must be chosen carefully. It is a one pound roll of sausage. Do not use turkey or chicken sausage. Do not use any sausage with hot ingredients - i.e. chili’s, red pepper, etc. Try to find a package of pork sausage (with sage is ok). The amount of sausage to add depends on the size of the turkey. If the turkey is small - 10 lbs. add 2/3 of the roll. If the turkey is up to 15 lbs., add the whole roll. Link sausage is ok to use, but you must remove the casings before adding to the dressing.
Next week we complete the dressing and finish the turkey for stuffing.
Pat Biggerstaff is the gardening columnist for the Daily News. She lives in Middlesboro. To comment or suggest topics for future columns, e-mail email@example.com.