This is a tale of two dressings. You have heard about the turkey and you will hear about the side dishes. But in my mind, the dressing is what makes the Thanksgiving meal. So I take it VERY seriously. This year I only made one dressing but with two variations.
Main Dressing – cooked outside the bird
Put a VERY large saucepan/Dutch Oven on medium heat and dice two large onions up very small. Put them on to soften in about a quarter cup of olive oil. Chop a head of celery up about the same size and addd it to soften as well. (I used perhaps the best celery I have ever had in my life – it came from our Terra Firma organic box and it was PERFECT.) Also add six cloves of minced garlic. While softening, prepare the bread. You’ll need two flat loaves of real country sourdough bread. Cut them up with a heavy knife into pieces at most an inch in size. Once the onion and celery are soft, stir in the pieces of bread and decant it all into a very large bowl.
Now prepare the pan again and cook at higher heat a pound of sausages diced up small. I used Aidell’s Chicken Artichoke sausages which were perfect with everything else. Once the Sausage is going (you may need to add a little more olive oil) roughly chop up a pound of mushrooms small and cook them with the sausage. Meanwhile dice up about a cup of dried fruit – dried cherries and prunes are the best but apricots or other fruit could work well too – as fine as you can. Just don’t use raisins. Add them to the pan and pour in about a cup of good chicken or turkey stock and let it come to a simmer, then turn it off. Pour off excess liquid and set it aside. Pour it over the rest of the dressing and stir it in thoroughly. Now stir in five tablespoons of dried, rubbed sage, two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary, a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper and two tablespoons of kosher salt. You can also add two fresh apples finely diced at this point if you want. Thoroughly stir all of this in as well. Now add chicken or turkey stock to the mixture and keep stirring it in JUST UNTIL the micture is moist but NOT soggy. Put aside enough of what you made to stuff your turkey. The rest goes into casserole dishes to bake.
It can now wait until an hour before the bird is done, then pour half a stick of melted butter on top and shove it in the oven with the bird (should be at 375 degrees).
And now for the second dressing to go inside the bird…
Secondary Dressing – cooked inside the bird
You want this dressing to be richer and soggier than the other. Take the dressing you set aside and put it in a bowl. Finely chop another cup of fruit (see above) and put it in a pan to simmer with another cup of stock and two finely diced apples. Once it comes to a simmer, turn it off and let it sit. Pour this mixture over the reserved dressing and stir it in. This dressing should be moister than the first and almost soggy. Add a loittle port or sherry until it is moist enough and then carefully stuff the bird cavity with it – do not compress it however. Also remember to wipe out the cavity BEFORE stuffing.