Growing up filling (stuffing, bread stuffing, dressing) was a treat that happened only at holidays. Mom would start weeks ahead cubing old white bread and laying it out to dry. We looked forward to this every bit as much as we did the turkey or, gasp, dessert. She always made plenty as leftovers were wonderful cold, heated with gravy or even stashed away in the freezer for a later time. Fast forward to the time when I am the one cooking Thanksgiving dinner and filling still plays a center roll. Now I make extra for the kids to take along back to college. Saffron is key to the flavor. The stigma of a fall crocus, it is found in many PA Dutch dishes. I grow my own, harvesting the tiny deep red threads every fall and storing them in an airtight tin. At the rate of 3 stigma per crocus you can only imagine how many it takes for an ounce which is why good saffron is sold by the grain.
The saffron is also key to the yellow color of this particular stuffing.
Make sure when making this that the stuffing is wet enough. Everyone has their own preference when making stuffing but this one is best moist.
3 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 1/2 c milk
3 cups bread, cubed and dried
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
pinch of saffron, crushed and allowed to soak in 1/4 cup warm water
In a hot pan melt the butter and saute the chopped onion and celery
In a separate bowl mix the eggs with the milk
In a very large bowl measure in the dried bread cubes
Toss the sauteed onion and celery with the bread cubes
Add the mashed potatoes, and egg and milk mixture
Add the parsley and the saffron water
With a spatula fold everything together till the bread cubes are all wet
Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish
Bake 350F for 45 min to an hour or until lightly browned and puffed
*All of the ingredients can be mixed the day before and held covered in the refrigerator overnight to be baked the next day.
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