Thanksgiving is just 10 days away. How can that possibly be?
With her relatively mild fall, Mother Nature has lulled us into a false sense of security. If the petunias are still blooming in front of my house (and they still were as of late last week), the Holiday of the Big Feast can’t possibly be that close, right?
Not right. 10 days. That’s all we have left to figure out the logistics — the when, where and how — of the Thanksgiving eats.
Those of you who have followed this forum for a while should know by now what’s coming. Yep, it’s my annual campaign to convince all cooks out there to try my favorite Thanksgiving recipe — Slow Cooker Stuffing. In past years, I have convinced a number of you to give it a try, and I’ve heard from many of its devotees. For those of you who are not yet convinced (yes, I know Great Aunt Opal’s recipe is a family tradition, but isn’t it a lot of work?), I must once again extol the virtues of cooking the stuffing in the slow cooker.
First of all, it can be made in advance. I always make it the day before, put it in the crock and refrigerate; then the next morning, it just needs to be pulled out, set to cook on low, and stirred occasionally. (That task usually falls to Hubby Bryan first thing on Thanksgiving morning, while I am still abed.)
Secondly, it’s a lot safer than stuffing the turkey. Food safety experts have been warning about this practice for years, saying the stuffing may not reach the temperature necessary to kill any lurking bacteria.
And if you cook the stuffing/dressing in a casserole in the oven, it tends to dry out. Not the case in the slow cooker.
Lastly, it’s delicious. Enough said.
As long as I am once again sharing the stuffing recipe, I will also include my other all-time favorite time saver for a big gathering. Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes can also be made ahead and reheated up to almost two weeks in your refrigerator.
With such make-ahead mainstays on your menu — and a bit of delegation for the rest of the meal — preparing a delicious feast can be relatively hassle-free.
In 1 cup butter, saute 1 cup chopped onion and 2 cups chopped celery. Remove mixture from stove and stir in 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 2 teaspoons sage.
In a large bowl, combine 12 cups dried bread pieces with the butter-vegetable mixture.
Beat 2 eggs and combine with 3 to 4 cups chicken broth; pour over bread and stir well to combine.
Place mixture in slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. (I turn it up to high for about 1 hour in order to get the crispy stuff around the edges.)
Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes
Peel 5 pounds (10 large) potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Mash until smooth (no lumps).
Add 6 ounces cream cheese (or lower fat Neufchatel), 1 cup dairy sour cream (I prefer the light version or Greek yogurt), 2 teaspoons onion salt, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.
May be used anytime within 10 days. Place desired amount in a greased casserole, dot with butter and bake in 350 degree oven until heated through, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size of dish.