Thanksgiving is officially almost a week away and though I know many of us are still mourning the loss of the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations we can’t be having, I’m somehow applying my usual dose of adaptability and enthusiasm to the situation, finding myself much more focused on the celebrations I can have than those I can’t.
There is talk of a virtual Friendsgiving (no idea how we’ll pull this off) and some sort of Thanksgiving Zoom celebration on the 26th with my 90-year old grandmother (who I have talked to over the phone many times since the pandemic began, but have yet to see over video). I’d say I’ll spend the rest of the day zooming ahead to December and decorating our tree, but we’ve already done that. Instead, I’ll probably spend half the day hiking, eat whenever I want, and cozy up with a bunch of lackluster romantic Christmas movies on Netflix.
It’s deer hunting season so my Carrot may or may not be home which means I can literally make whatever I want, get all the leftovers, and skip any parts of Thanksgiving I don’t care about. The meal will likely include copious amounts of stuffing, cranberry jam, and sweet potato fries. Maybe there will be roast turkey. Maybe there will be roast chicken. Maybe I’ll beg my mom to give me half of the 20-pound turkey she’s making for her and my dad. Maybe I’ll grill some salmon.
Who the hell knows? Only time will tell. There’s really no advanced planning necessary when it’s just me plus possibly one another. We have enough food in our freezer, fridge, basement and pantry to feed several armies. I can just wing it based on our whims and whatever they made in the latest Great British Bake Off episode.
One thing that will definitely be on the menu is this Sourdough & Salami Dressing made with local sourdough, a handful of our storage vegetables, and my friends’ amazing local salami.
I have always loved dressing, but never perfected my own recipe. I tried once with cornbread. It was fine, but the issue I’ve found with cornbread, is that it already has so much moisture in it, it just falls apart when you add the necessary broth, butter and/or eggs to the mixture. In fact, that’s just generally an issue with dressing. That’s why most people use those bags of little cubes from the grocery store for their dressing. But I refuse. I want real bread.
I finally learned that the trick for really good dressing that doesn’t fall apart (while using a favorite loaf of bread) is:
- Get that bread nice and dry. Tear or cut it into pieces and then leave it on your counter for a few days. Or bake it in the oven to dry it out before tossing with other wet ingredients. I know it feels silly to dry something out just to rehydrate it, but I promise it’s worth it.
- Do not overstir. You will be tempted. You will think that the four or five stirs aren’t enough to incorporate all the egg and broth into the bread, but I promise, it will be (especially if you whisk the egg and broth before hand). Gently fold the mixture into the dressing, pour into into the baking dish, and leave it alone. It will be fine.
Another thing I really love about this recipe is that I finally got the ratios right. I used a lot of broth. I feared it was too much, but since every dressing I’ve ever made has been fairly lackluster and dry, I gave it a go. And it was perfect. The moisture soaks into the bread while it bakes yielding a very tender, very moist, very wonderful dressing.
I also love this recipe because it’s filled with amazing flavors. I mean leeks, celeriac, loads of herbs, and salami!? It’s a heavy hitting recipe. BUT it’s not too much either. All the component parts add a lot to the dish without trying to steal the stage. Bread is still the heart and soul of this dressing, but there is just enough going on to keep things interesting.
I hope you enjoy and I hope you have a lovely, safe Thanksgiving holiday.
SOURDOUGH & SALAMI DRESSING
Takes 1 hour (plus time to dry the bread, if needed)
1 loaf sourdough, torn or cut into squares (about 10 cups)
1/2 cup butter
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celeriac, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 2-ounce sticks salami (I used Driftless Provisions’ Loukanika), diced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 cups chicken broth
2 large eggs
- If your sourdough is day-old and a bit crunchy, it’s ready to go. If it’s fresh, you will need to dry it in the oven by placing it on a baking sheet and baking for 50-60 minutes at 250 degrees. You want the sourdough to be fairly hard so it holds it’s structure while being cooked.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Add leeks, celeriac, garlic, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes until softened. Add salami and cook 5 minutes longer to incorporate flavors.
- Place dried sourdough in a large bowl. Add cooked veggies and salami along with parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage. Too gently to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk chicken broth and eggs together. Pour over bread mixture. Toss very gentle to incorporate liquid throughout mixture without letting the bread break apart. Four-five stirs should do it.
- Pour dressing mixture into a greased baking dish (9×13 is preferable).
- Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until set and cooked through.