Stuffing has two primary forms: bread casserole and damp bread. This is why the add-ins—herbs, alliums, etc.—are so important. And while I love herby, oniony stuffing, I’m going to suggest you add another ingredient that is neither vegetable nor herb. I’m going to suggest you add smoked turkey.
Chopped up turkey in your stuffing might seem redundant, or meta, or just plain needless, but listen to me. This is not just any turkey, and it certainly isn’t your “main event” bird. This is bits of smoked turkey—the best turkey—a taste sensation most accurately described as “turkey, but also ham hock.” (Smoked turkey legs are also very cheap. I got two for less than two bucks. Ask your butcher where to find them.)
Look, if I had it my way, the big bird would be smoked, but I don’t have a smoker, and some people (my dad) get all upset if the turkey is not traditionally roasted. Adding smoked turkey to stuffing acts much like bacon bits; little salty, meaty morsels punctuating the soft, mellow and herby landscape of your side of bread that is not a roll, making the side a dish that can stand all on its own. Plus, this is a great litmus test for all those folks who claim they just looooove turkey. (If they are true fans, bonus turkey will not upset them.)
You can add smoked turkey to any stuffing recipe. I usually use a one-to-one ratio (by mass) of meat and dried bread. If, however, you’re in need of a simple stovetop stuffing recipe, I just happen to have one.
Smoked Turkey Stuffing
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 large shallots
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 8 ounces dried sourdough bread, cut into cubes
- 1 3/4 cups turkey stock (or non-turkey stock)
- 8 ounces smoked turkey, chopped
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until foamy. In the meantime, peel the shallots and slice them into thin rings. Add the shallots to the butter, and cook until they are soft and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the herbs, cook for a couple of minutes more, then add the bread and stir to combine. Add the stock (season with a teaspoon of salt if yours is light of sodium), bring to a boil, stir in the turkey, and cover. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.