Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Stuffing in the Crockpot

I've had a few family members request my Thanksgiving stuffing recipe that I've made in past years. I don't have any pictures ready to share since I haven't made it yet this year, but I felt this blog was the best way to share the info for everyone. As I go through the process this week, I will try to update with some photos.

 I have to admit that I don't have an exact recipe for the stuffing as far as the amounts go. I will do my best to guess at how much to put in, but feel free to play with the amounts to your liking. This is basically the recipe my mom always made as we were growing up. We always stuffed it into the turkey. Now the food safety specialists suggest cooking the stuffing separate from the bird. We also have some extended family members who cannot have gluten so doing the stuffing separate allows them the chance to eat the same turkey. The other challenge that we all face on Thanksgiving is having enough oven space to roast the turkey and cook the stuffing and the rolls. By adapting the stuffing recipe for the crockpot, it freed up the oven for other things.

I start drying out bread cubes a few weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. My kids always refuse to eat the heal of the bread loaf. I have a few stack up eventually because I can't eat them all. I cut them into small cubes and place them on a baking sheet. I then leave them on the counter overnight to dry out or place them in a warm oven (200 degrees or so) and allow them to dry out. You need to make sure they are good and dry. Allow to cool and then bag up for safe keeping. I do this process a few times to gather enough bread cubes to make stuffing. They will last 6 months to a year this way, if kept in an airtight container. Feel free to purchase the dry bread cubes that are available at the store this time of year instead of making your own.

I usually saute the vegetables a few days ahead of Thanksgiving to make it very easy the day of. Just store them in the fridge until you mix it all together. We often take this item to dinner when we are traveling to be with family. With the vegetables all sauteed and ready to go in the cooler and my bag of bread cubes, it goes together really fast after the turkey is in the oven.

You can make this dairy and gluten free, by using the appropriate butter substitute and gluten-free bread. That is what we did this year since we were eating with family members who suffer from allergies.

Apple Vegetable Stuffing in the Crockpot

12 cups dry bread cubes
1 large onion
2-3 carrots
3-4 stalks of celery
2 apples
1 stick butter
4-6 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon dissolved in water
Season with sage, salt, and pepper

Peel and chop all the vegetables and apples. Saute in butter until the onions are clear. Spray the crockpot with Pam and dump the bread cubes in. Mix in the vegetables. Sprinkle a little ground sage over the mix and stir. Pour some of the broth over the stuffing. I use about 1/2 to begin with. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add broth as needed to gain the consistency that you like. Add additional seasonings at the end, if needed. This would fill a 4 quart crockpot.

The secret ingredient is the apples. They add a certain sweetness that is irresistible! Enjoy!

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