|Bread stuffing, fresh out of the oven|
The story of my turkey-and-all-the-trimmings birthday dinner is pretty much old news now, but for cooks I thought I’d detail what I did—and the way I coped when I ended up with a lot of deli-style sliced turkey breast instead of the whole breast I thought I ordered.
At first, confronted with all that sliced turkey, I thought I’d serve it cold with hot gravy. Then I thought maybe I’d also offer a cold tonnato sauce, which I would love but others in the family might not. But then inspiration struck, and I posted my dilemma on the NYT Cooking Community page on Facebook. The suggestions—and the birthday wishes—overwhelmed me. But one stuck out: a contributor reported success wrapping turkey slices around portions of dressing.
My chance to have northern-style bread dressing! The southerners in my family always fix cornbread dressing, and I long for what my mom used to make. So that was my first hurdle. I knew how Mom did it, but I didn’t have the proportions. I wanted to use up baguette pieces that had been in the freezer long enough but how much bread? Everything online said, “A small loaf” or measured by weight—I wanted to know how many cups of turn bread pieces. I finally found a recipe that gave me some guidance and then winged it. Here’s what I did;
3 Tbsp. butter
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper
6 cups torn bread pieces (baguette slices)
2 cups chicken broth (approximate measure)
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
(Add 1 Tbsp. fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried if you have it—I didn’t; you can also add rosemary but remember a little goes a long way.)
Sauté celery and onion in butter until translucent. Cool slightly and mix with bread pieces in a large bowl. Stir in parsley, thyme, and sage. Stir in broth a bit at a time until you get the right consistency—mixture should be moist but not soupy.
Lightly grease a jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Yes, you can do this in a toaster oven. The pan I use in my oven was just the right size.
Let the dressing cool until you can handle it, and then put about a good Tbsp. in the center of each turkey slice. Warning: deli-sliced turkey is fragile and tends to tear when you roll it. If you can get it sliced to order at a deli counter, ask for just a bit thicker slice.
Arrange turkey rolls (my son-in-law called them Christmas roll) in flat casserole dish, lightly greased. Cover lightly with broth—again, don’t get it mushy. You want just enough to steam the rolls but not float them. Cover casserole tightly with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. All you need is to heat it through.
I fixed two rolls per person, found the ladies ate one each, the men two. Served with mashed potatoes, traditional green bean casserole, and gravy, lots of gravy. Since I didn’t cook turkey and had no drippings, I used packaged dry gravy—Pioneer brand—and it was just fine. A good trick for improving packet gravy is to add a bouillon cube or a tsp. of refrigerated bouillon concentrate.
My Christmas menu was a hit and drew raves.