When I was growing up, stuffing was synonymous with one brand. There really was no other kind of stuffing known to me. It was (and in some ways, still is) my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.
That brand is Stovetop.
Stove Top Stuffing solves three problems: It’s quick, does not require a turkey, and does not have to be tied to the holiday. Sure, you can call it dressing if it doesn’t actually go inside the bird, but let’s not get too hung up in semantics.
But once I tasted stuffing made with eggs at home, I realized why I liked Stove Top so much – the flavor and the texture. With homemade stuffing, the bread pieces are much larger and soggier. I have to this day not tasted a stuffing similar in style to Stove Top.
Now that Americans are on this non-processed food kick, I know several people who have nixed the stuff. I’m 26 years old, I enjoy cooking my own food from scratch, and I still eat it. Despite the high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, preservatives and other ingredients that some of us can or cannot eat, it still is and always will be part of my Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s one day out of the year (two if you decide to have it on December 25), and everything can be enjoyed in moderation.
But Sara, shouldn’t you be making your own stuffing as the recipe developer that you are?
Alright, fine. It wouldn’t be a true scientific study if I didn’t give stuff a shot. But I refuse to use eggs. Eggs act as a binder and create that incredibly dense stuffing you may like, but since there are no eggs in Stove Top, I won’t be using them.
To start, I wanted good bread. Really good bread. So I purchased a loaf of semolina from Amelia’s, a bakery in Fountain Square, Indianapolis. The first step was to break the bread apart into tiny pieces and allow to dry out on a large baking sheet overnight.
Using half of the loaf, I was able to get about 6-7 cups of bread. Some recipes call for 10 or more cups, but since it is only Rahul and me eating this new-to-us stuffing, I didn’t feel the need to make a mass quantity of it.
Once dried out, the bread was ready to go. My arsenal of other ingredients included mild Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, celery, fresh rosemary and thyme, and turkey stock.
The process was rather simple. Sweat onions and celery in olive oil, brown the sausage, add in the mushrooms, herbs, and bread, stir in turkey stock, and bake.
The result? Pretty darn good. While the stuffing did not pack up and become dense as it would have with eggs, that did not bother us. The bread soaked up all of the delicious flavors of onions and celery and turkey stock, while the sausage gave the fat the dish needed. I noticed some people add melted butter, but I don’t think that would have been necessary here.
So, what did we learn with this experiment? Making stuffing without eggs is simple and requires only a smidgen more time than what you’ll get with instant stuffing, but to be honest, I will continue to prefer Stove Top for Thanksgiving. While homemade stuffing gives you the flexibility to add in any and all ingredients you want, Stove Top has the taste I am looking for. I know it may not be the best to eat for health reasons, or that it isn’t as creative or “food writer-ish” that homemade stuffing can be, but right now, it is more about tradition than what’s right. And that’s a tradition I plan on keeping.
But if you are curious, like I was, you may like this recipe for Stuffing with Mushrooms and Sausage. It was really good, and we enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast the next day. It’s not Stove Top, but it tastes great for what it is.
The end result of my homemade stuffing pictured above – what do you prefer, homemade or Stove Top? Do you make it inside the turkey or outside?
SAUSAGE AND MUSHROOM STUFFING – WITHOUT EGGS
- 6-7 cups of stale cubed bread
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 cup sliced Bella mushrooms
- 1 to 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large oven safe pan, sweat the diced onions and celery in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Brown the mild Italian sausage, using a spoon to break it up into small pieces.
- Stir in the sliced Bella mushrooms and let cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the bread crumbs and stir, then pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock. Stir to incorporate and if the bread still looks dry, add more liquid. Stir in the fresh herbs.
- Add the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. If you don’t have an oven safe pan, you can pour the stuffing into a 9 x 13″ baking pan.
- Once the stuffing is lightly browned on top, remove and serve. Leftovers make for a great breakfast, too!