Part of the charm of Thanksgiving dinner is that it's all such hearty, basic, cheap food. Even when we were pinching our pennies the tightest, we still managed to host large Thanksgiving dinners at our house, because, well, turkey, potatoes, corn, bread, cranberries, pumpkin, and apples are some of the cheapest foods you can buy. Sure, it's fun to fancy things up a little - maybe put some bacon on those green beans or some blue cheese on the sweet potatoes - but in my opinion you don't want to stray too far from the basics. (I imagine 99% of children agree with me...)
So here's a basic-as-they-come traditional bread stuffing, straight from the old classic Joy of Cooking. (If you're beginning to suspect I'm 60, I'm not. Joy of Cooking might not be the best for trendy or sophisticated recipes, but, man, they get their basics right.) Keep it simple and just make it as written, or add in some sausage/dried fruit/nuts/mushrooms to jazz it up a little. It's a springboard!
classic bread stuffing
1 large loaf of bread, roughly 1 lb, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
6 Tbsp butter
2 cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium onion)
1 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 - 3 stalks)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Optional add-ins: 1/2 lb cooked crumbled sausge, 1 lb sauteed mushrooms, 1/2 cup dried nuts, 1/2 cup dried fuit
First dry out the bread cubes: Preheat oven to 400 and spread the cubes in a baking pan. Toast until golden brown. This took about 10 minutes for me, but timing could differ so keep an eye on it!
Butter a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium high heat. Saute onions and celery until soft and tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for just 30 seconds more.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread cubes and the onion mixture. Stir together the chicken stock and eggs, then pour onto the bread mixture and stir to distribute evenly. Depending on how firm you want the stuffing, etc, you will need to add more stock until its is lightly moist but not soggy or packed together.
Scoop into prepared pan. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and then bake another 25-30 minutes or so or until golden brown.
*If you want to make this ahead, you can proceed through step 4, then wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate. On bake day, remove from fridge 30 minutes ahead of time to take chill off, then bake as directed in step 5.