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Food Storage Tips: Stuffing bread with the bread machine

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Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. When I was a kid, my mom would set out stale pieces of bread in a big Tupperware bowl on the day before Thanksgiving. She broke the bread into small pieces and let it sit to dry out. Sometimes she would dry it a little while in a low oven. She fried onion and celery in a little butter, and tossed the bread in, adding spices and enough broth to make it moist. Then she stuffed it into the turkey. Delicious!

For some reason, I have never made stuffing this way as a grown-up. I’ve always bought boxes of Mrs. Cubbison’s instead, even though I’m normally a make-it-from-scratch snob. So, this year I am making the stuffing bread from scratch for the first time. This will save us money on our Thanksgiving groceries, help us rotate our food storage, and start a new family tradition. Since I’m using the bread machine, it won’t take a lot of extra time if I plan ahead.

My mom says it really doesn’t matter what kind of bread you use. She would just take stale bread from the bread drawer, which was usually store-bought wheat bread. We don’t have much stale bread around here; it all gets eaten pretty quickly. What little we have gets turned into bread crumbs. So I figured I’d be making bread for stuffing anyway, and I might as well pick out a good recipe.

So I looked for a good recipe the way I usually do nowadays, by searching the internet. Sure enough, a few recipes did come up under “stuffing bread machine.” I tried this one in the bread machine today. It’s a basic bread recipe with added herbs, diced onion, and an egg. I don’t like the texture of onion, so I blended the onion and water together in the blender before adding it to the bread machine. The bread smelled delicious while baking, and I couldn’t resist trying a piece when it was done. Delicious! If I were eating it straight, I’d add a little extra salt to the bread, increasing it to 1 teaspoon. The stuffing will have more salt added through the broth, so adding extra salt isn’t necessary if using it for stuffing.

Cooking the stuffing

Traditionally, stuffing is stuffed into the turkey. Our family has usually done this, despite modern worries about salmonella, and we are still alive. However, some foodies like Alton Brown say that you should never bake stuffing in the turkey because it increases the cooking time and makes the bird drier. The problem is that baked stuffing usually tastes dry. Also, sometimes you need to make extra stuffing for more guests. How can you make good stuffing without putting it into the turkey?

Last year, I tried this recipe for Slow Cooker Stuffing. I adapted it to our family’s stuffing style by adding sausage and eliminating the mushroom and egg. I was careful about the amount of broth I added, only adding enough to make the bread moist, not soggy. I also added extra turkey gravy, at my mom’s suggestion. She said that the gravy helps the stuffing remain moist, the way that “real stuffing” (from the turkey) is. I put it all into the crockpot early in the day and let it cook on low. This was very convenient, because I didn’t have to deal with the stuffing at the last minute, and it stayed warm until it was ready to serve. And it was delicious. I’m making it this way again this year.

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