You may be accustomed to seeing my recipe contributions be a little on the decadent side (hello, oysters!), but this time, I wanted to share with you a recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving Day side: stuffing. Now, I know this can be a bit controversial, as people have strong opinions on whether to add dried cranberries, use the giblets, to stuff the turkey or not to stuff the turkey… Maybe debate those finer points instead of politics? But this is one of my all-time favorite recipes.
When I left home for college, an eight-plus hour drive away, my mother assembled a cookbook for me of all my favorites. She titled it “Mother Belval’s Down-home Recipes.” That always kind of ticked me because we’re from Minnesota, not Mississippi, and I never called her “Mother,” always “Mom.”
Anyway, this is a super simple, easy, not-too-bad-for-you stuffing. I hope it brings as much warmth to your belly and fun to your tastebuds as it has mine.
As for what to drink this Thanksgiving, I always grab a Pinot Noir. The wine isn’t too tannic or acidic, making it complement the turkey instead of compete with it, and the red fruits work well with things like cranberry sauce. But it’s also got enough backbone and heft to not fall by the wayside with rich gravy and buttery mashed potatoes.
If you can get your hand on a Burgundian Pinot Noir, go for it. However, one from a California appellation will also serve you well. I’ve found my palate leaning towards the Russian River and Sonoma areas. The Willamette Valley in Oregon is renowned for its Pinot, though if you try it, I’d ask a salesperson for recommendations, as there are a LOT of producers from this area and a wide variety of styles.
If you’d prefer a white, try Champagne. Its spent time developing bread-dough like notes and a rich “mouth feel” will pair well with stuffing, turkey, and salads. You could also give California Chardonnay a go, if you like that style, but I’d throw in a German Riesling Kabinett for fun. It’s a bit on the sweeter side, but a Kabinett level will be on the drier side of the scale. (The sweetness level for German Riesling is based on the amount of sugar/ripeness in the grapes at picking, not at bottling. Kabinett is picked with the least amount of sugar. For more information on German Riesling, check out Wine Folly.)
As I always say, your palate may or may not like these matches, so don’t be afraid to try something. You may be surprised and like it… or not like it. Either is okay.
As for a cocktail, one of my personal favorites at this time of year is something my former father-in-law called a Snowball, but it’s more of what’s known as a Peppermint Patty. I absolutely love this on a cold night, when the (non-existent in Sacramento) snow gently falls outside.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone… And remember, there’s no shame in wearing loose yoga pants to Thanksgiving dinner!
Mother Belval’s Down-home Stuffing
(This is for a 10-pounder)
- 8 cups bread, cut into 1” cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp poultry seasoning
- A few leaves of fresh sage, gently chopped
- A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 stick butter, fully melted
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Package sausage (my addition) – any kind works.
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cookie sheet by spraying with cooking spray. Cut bread into 1” cubes. Lay cubes out in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until all cubes are dried and crunchy.
While bread is drying, remove sausage from casing. Add olive oil to coat a large sauté pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Once the pan has come to temp, add the sausage, using a spoon to break it up as it cooks. Once it’s browned, remove from pan. Place in large bowl and set aside.
In the same pan you used for the sausage, combine onions, celery, garlic, sage, rosemary, and poultry seasoning, plus some salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are softened.
To the large bowl with the sausage, add the vegetables, dried bread cubes, melted butter, and enough broth the moisten everything in the bowl. Gently combine. You don’t want it to be soupy, but you want enough liquid to ensure the bread won’t dry out during cooking. Place in a greased casserole dish. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t include cook time or temp in her recipe—she always stuffed the bird—but Google suggested about 35-45 minutes at 350, or until it’s crispy on top.
1 package hot cocoa
1 cup hot water
1 oz peppermint Schnapps (or more, depending on how peppermint-y you want it)
Add hot cocoa to mug. Pour hot water over. Add Schnapps and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and sugar sprinkles.