Friday, November 11, 2011

Stuffing as a family tradition, and why mine is better than yours

Come a little closer, I'm going to tell you a secret.

My mom has the best stuffing recipe in the world.  Oh yes, it's true.

I wasn't aware of the fact that I had grown up eating the best stuffing in existence until I moved away and started making it for other people.  It's always the best stuffing they've ever had,  and I doubt they were saying that to be nice, because to be frank, not all of those people that ate the stuffing turned out to be very nice people.

I'm not sure how old this recipe is... but I know it was also my Grandmother's stuffing recipe. I know very little about this stuffing besides that it is delicious, it's crazy simple, and everyone in my family has their own strange connection with it.

Picture IS related.
The stuffing has to be made the night before and left in the fridge raw overnight to become the awesome stuffing-butterfly that it is the next day.  I remember very clearly growing up that my Aunt Lori would come over the night before Thanksgiving and drink Bloody Marys with my mom as they made the stuffing, which slowly became more and more amusing throughout the night.  After the stuffing was mixed and resting in the giant metal bowl my mom reserved specifically for this task, I would watch my mom very seriously struggle not to eat most of the stuffing raw.  I have a very vivid impression of my dad scolding her for it, "Linda! There are RAW EGGS in that!" and then he'd laugh, as if he just realized how ridiculous it was to scold her for something she did every single year without getting sick.  Then she'd giggle like a little girl getting away with something and lick the spoon. I suppose this proves that most eggs will not, in fact, kill you instantly if you eat them raw. Not that I would suggest you eat this stuffing raw (If I had a lawyer, he'd want me to say that).

Once the stuffing was baked, the challenge became keeping my Aunt Lori and I away from the crispy top layer. Oh, crispy top layer... you tease me with your crunchy deliciousness.

This recipe was dictated to me over the phone by my mother, who hasn't needed a recipe for it since God knows when. Probably never. If there's something that's not clear, let me know... but it's pretty cut and dry.

My Mom's Stuffing

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 package of Sage and Onion Croutons (preferably Brownberry), 2 packages if also stuffing a bird
1 whole head of Celery
4 onions
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
Whole Milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
Brown the ground beef and drain off the excess fat.  In a separate pan, saute the onions and celery until soft in a stick of butter.  Add about a teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste to the vegetables when they are done cooking. If the onions and celery become dry while cooking, add up to a stick more butter.  Put the croutons in a very large bowl and wet with milk.  Don't be afraid of the croutons getting, as my mom would say, "Gunky."  They have to be very wet for the stuffing to work.

Put the hot ingredients in the bowl with the croutons and mix.  Beat the eggs, and add them to the mixture. Make sure everything is incorporated well, and wet. If the stuffing seems dry, add more milk.  It shouldn't be floating, but it should be sloppy. Cover the mixture and let sit in the refrigerator over night.

The next day, bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about an hour, covered for the first 45 minutes (or, stuff inside of a turkey, and roast as usual).

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