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Classic Butter and Herb Dressing

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As if by magic, the year has whizzed by and here we are at Thanksgiving, with an important question top of mind: What is your position on dressing (or is it stuffing?)?

So many opinions. First off, do you “dress” your turkey, or do you “stuff” it? Most of us in Texas are of the “dressing” ilk, because we tend to make our favorite Thanksgiving side in a baking dish as opposed to stuffing it inside the turkey (easier, cleaner, less chance for error or, worse, bacteria). What about the base? Will it be southern cornbread? Something more sturdy? A mixture? And add-ins? Will there be something sweet – apples or cranberries? Crunchy – pecans or chestnuts? Oh, and what about sausage or oysters?

In my family, we have had them all. Sausage and apricot is a favorite, as is spicy oyster. But here is one dressing that will fit the bill no matter what. It’s simple – no add-ins – and will easily complement everything on the plate from turkey to sweet potatoes to cranberries. A mix of cornbread and a sturdier bread give texture. And the leeks and herbs are spot-on – flavorful but not overpowering. Cream and eggs make this dressing creamy inside, and extra dabs of butter make it crispy outside. In a menu where much can turn mushy, this dressing stands up.

No matter what your dressing/stuffing POV, I’m thinking this will hit the mark. Gobble gobble!

Classic Butter and Herb Dressing

This Classic Butter and Herb Dressing will complement everything on your Thanksgiving menu.

Classic Butter and Herb Dressing

5 cups torn sourdough bread or baguette, including crusts (1/2- to 1-inch pieces)
5 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
8 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white parts only, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons dried sage
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups turkey or chicken stock
¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup minced chives

Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and let them sit at room temperature, uncovered, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, celery, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and are just beginning to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and stock. Place the bread in a very large bowl and gently stir in the vegetables. Add the egg and cream mixture and toss lightly to ensure all of the bread has absorbed the liquid.

Scoop the dressing into the prepared pan. Dot the top all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until the dressing is bubbling. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes or so, until the top turns golden and crisp. Serve topped with a sprinkle of parsley and chives.

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