If I had to condense Thanksgiving dinner to a single dish, I’d forgo the turkey and sweet potatoes in a heartbeat and make this stuffing recipe. With the turkey neck and giblets, poultry spices, and cranberries, it has all the holiday flavors I love. Unlike a lot of stuffing recipes, it’s neither dry nor soggy! Grandpa Jim would make this with a full cup of melted butter, which I can't conscientiously include, but I sauté the mushrooms in butter instead of olive oil as my concession to family tradition. —Melissa B.
a small army (10-20)
small loaf day-old bread (or half a large loaf), cubed (8-10 cups)
pack of turkey giblets and turkey neck (or 2-3 chicken livers, or both!)
Take the giblets pouch and the neck from your Thanksgiving turkey. I usually discard the gizzard (the blue-tinted hockey puck) but if you want to use it, open it up and clean out any sand, stones, or misplaced diamond engagement rings, and prepare it with the heart and liver.
If you’re not preparing a turkey, you can use 2 or 3 chicken livers, which are available at most grocery stores.
Boil the heart and liver with the neck until cooked, about twenty minutes. Let everything cool, then pick the meat from the neck and finely chop the giblets.
While the giblets are cooking, finely chop the carrots, onions, and mushrooms.
Heat the olive oil or butter in a large skillet with the rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Saute the veggies until the mushrooms cook down and the carrots start to soften, about 5 minutes. I usually add the celery raw, or barely softened.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread cubes, sauted veggies, celery, chopped cooked giblets, and cranberries.
Add salt and pepper, half the chicken stock, and the beaten eggs and mix everything. Add more chicken stock to reach the right level of wet—you want a deliciously fragrant, wet goopy mess.
Let the mess sit for five or ten minutes while you preheat the oven (or in the fridge for an hour or more, if you’re ahead of schedule or have a pie to bake). The bread and cranberries will soak up the liquid while it rests.
With your hands, shape the stuffing into soggy tennis balls and smoosh them side-by-side into a greased 9x11 baking pan. They’ll all kind of smoosh together, but when they bake they’ll firm up into portion-sized pillows of deliciousness. If they’re not goopy wet, add more chicken broth. If they’re too wet and fall apart, add some oats or bread crumbs.
Bake at 350F for about thirty minutes, until browned on top and cooked through but not dried out inside. It should be moist and fluffy, not soggy or dry! The temperature is flexible, so you can bake it with your pies—just keep an eye on it and adjust the time accordingly!