This old-fashioned stuffing or dressing recipe is made with cracker crumbs, garlic, butter, chestnuts, and lots of bread. It is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and pairs well with turkey, chicken, or even roast beef or lamb.
Is there a difference? According to Alton Brown, there is. Stuffing is what’s put inside the bird, and dressing is what’s cooked separately. Soaking up raw meat juices with bread really creeps me out, so we have always cooked it separately.
I don’t care what it’s supposed to be called; I still call my outside the bird bread dish stuffing.
In years past, my father-in-law always made his beloved chestnut dressing, and he brought it to our house a few times. The dressing had a nice flavor, and everyone liked it. I preferred to eat around the chestnuts, and Joe eagerly devoured mine, but otherwise, I really liked the dish..
Last year, my in-laws made other plans for Thanksgiving, so Joe tried to put the chestnut dressing together on his own. There was no recipe, but his father told him approximately what to do.
Fortunately for all of us, Joe figured it out, and the results were tasty. Joe’s making it again this year, and I wanted to share his recipe with you. It is a simple recipe, and it is easy enough to put together on the morning of Thanksgiving – except you MUST peel the chestnuts ahead of time.
How to make chestnut stuffing
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Cut bread into bite-sized cubes.
- Crush the crackers.
- Melt butter in a medium skillet.
Add onion and garlic, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Toss bread cubes and crackers in a 9×13 baking dish and mix well.
- Pour eggs, chestnuts, and onion mixture over top. Mix well.
Add just enough milk so that the bread is moisten but not wet. (*You may not need a full cup; do not use too much or your finished stuffing will be soggy.)
- Cover with foil and bake for one hour or until golden brown on top. If the top doesn’t get crispy, you can remove the foil and bake it for 10-15 minutes uncovered.
A Warning – Cooking with Chestnuts
Chestnuts are tricky, especially if you’ve never used them before. You must not wait until Thanksgiving morning to shell them. Do it a day or two before you need them; it takes a good bit of time. You’ll throw your whole Thanksgiving cooking plan off if you wait til the last minute.
Go check out Martha Stewart’s video tutorial on peeling a chestnut if you’ve never done it before.
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