Delicious Make-ahead Stuffing Recipes

Oyster Stuffing-6214

Stuffing or dressing? What does your family call it? It turns out, that according to the experts at Butterball, those who call it dressing typically cook it separately from the turkey and probably live in the South. Those calling it stuffing cook it inside the bird. Who knew? Our family called it stuffing and probably always cooked it in the bird, so I still call it stuffing, even thought I now typically cook it separately in a casserole dish. Either way, here are 3 easy, make-ahead stuffing recipes that you can make the day before and refrigerate overnight so you have more time to enjoy friends and family on Thanksgiving Day.

The first recipe is my grandmother’s original Italian stuffing made with capicola, which is a red-peppered Italian ham, hard boiled eggs and lots of good quality Romano cheese. With this recipe it’s important not to add the raw egg until just before it goes in the oven. The second recipe is my favorite oyster stuffing made with French bread, thyme, sage and oysters that might just become your family’s new favorite. The third is the easiest of all for those who don’t have time or the inclination to fuss. It uses the old standby Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing Mix, with pre-cooked packaged sausage and dried cranberries added to create a savory and sweet stuffing that is a real time-saver.

Secret tips: use pre-chopped onion and celery, found now in most grocery stores, and pre-cooked packaged pork crumbles in the Pepperidge Farm cheat recipe. No one will ever know!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and remember to make as many of your dishes ahead of time as you can so you can truly enjoy this wonderful holiday.

Italian Stuffing

Italian stuffing

Serves 6-8

1 loaf sliced white bread, torn into 1” pieces (just tear it into small pieces, shape doesn’t matter)

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 cup grated Romano cheese

5 hard boiled eggs, cut into small chunks

Giblets, cooked in boiling water and cut into small pieces

½ – ¾ pound capicola, cut into 1” square pieces

1 or 2 raw eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste (add salt sparingly, as the cheese is already salty)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil turkey giblets in a small pan for about 5 minutes, cool and cut into small pieces. Set aside. Tear each slice of bread into 1 inch pieces and put into large bowl. Add onion, celery, hard boiled eggs, giblets, capicola, cheese and salt and pepper and mix well. If making the day before, at this point cover and place in refrigerator until ready to cook. When ready to cook, remover from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Add one raw egg beaten slightly to bind it together and mix well by hand. If needed, add a second raw egg. Place stuffing into a greased casserole dish and bake uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Oyster Stuffing-6214

Oyster stuffing

Serves 6-8

1 loaf French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, about 10 cups

6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 Tablespoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 16 ounce tub shucked oysters in liquid, do NOT drain (can be found at Central Market)

1 cup chicken stock

Place cubed bread into large mixing bowl and set aside. Cook bacon pieces in a skillet until crispy. Remove bacon bits and place on paper towel, reserving bacon fat in the skillet. Add butter to the skillet and melt. Add onion and celery and cook on medium high until soft, about 10 minutes. Add oyster liquid, stock, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium low about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add liquid mixture to the cubed bread. Add bacon and stir well. If making the day before, do not add the oysters. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stuffing from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about an hour. Add oysters to the stuffing and stir gently, being careful not to crush the oysters. Place in greased casserole and bake for 30 minutes covered. Then remove cover and bake another 30 minutes until golden brown.

Sausage and Dried Cranberry Stuffing

Sausage and dried cranberry stuffing

Serves 6-8

1 14 ounce package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing

5 Tablespoons butter

1 large onion, diced – about a cup

2 stalk celery, diced – about a cup

2 cups chicken stock, plus an additional 1/4 cup

2 9.6 ounce Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Original Pork Crumbles

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Pam cooking spray

If using walnuts in your recipe, roast them in a dry pan on very low heat for 2-3 minutes stirring continuously until golden with a nutty aroma. Prepare Pepperidge Farm Stuffing according to package instructions. While prepared stuffing is still in the hot saucepan, add the pre-cooked Jimmy Dean Sausage and dried cranberries and stir. No salt or pepper is required in this recipe. The sausage and the stuffing mix lend plenty of salty flavor. At this point, if making the day before, place in a bowl, cover and place in refrigerator. When ready to cook, remover from refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about an hour. Place in a greased casserole dish. If needed, add 1/4 cup more chicken stock to moisten it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake covered for 40 minutes until hot. For crispier stuffing, bake uncovered.

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