I’ve been making mushroom dressing–or stuffing, depending on where you’re from–for half a century or so. And I’m just getting around to writing up my recipe.
Usually I wing it, chopping vegetables while drying the bread. In addition to mushrooms, the saute always includes onions, celery and fresh herbs, mixed with the best white bread I can find. It’s meatless, for the sake of vegetarians at the table.
I get requests to make a lot, for leftovers, so I know my dressing is popular. But I will say that some years, it isn’t as good as others. Getting the right ratio of crunch on top relative to yielding, fragrant softness below is the tricky part.
So I did a few trial runs to nail the proportions and methods. We ate the results with grilled pork tenderloin and with roast chicken. Also on their own as a main dish, with salad or a green vegetable on the side, or for snacking.
A few observations. It’s worth the bother to buy a fabulous mix of mushroom varieties and to flavor generously with fresh herbs.
As for bread, what you need is a country white or sourdough loaf that pushes back when you press the top.
With a nod to my Oklahoma roots, I tried making dressing with homemade cornbread in place of bread. Quite good, but a bit too heavy.
I’ve also made this dressing with fewer eggs and no cream. Not as rich…but not as good.
Soon I’ll be picking up a farm share basket, overflowing with winter squash, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts, for our Thanksgiving table. We also signed up for a box of oyster, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, in readiness for me to make this dressing once more.
And I won’t let a whole year go by without making it again.
This dressing is my go-to for Thanksgiving. But it's also excellent year round as a side to roast meat or as a vegetarian main dish.
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 loaf sturdy white bread (1 pound, sliced)
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms (white, cremini, shiitake, oyster, etc.)
- 1 large onion or 2 leeks
- 2 or 3 ribs celery or ½ large fennel bulb (1 cup, after dicing)
- 3 sprigs sage (1/4 cup, after snipping leaves)
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley (1/2 cup, after chopping)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup white wine or vermouth
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 cups seasoned vegetable broth
Brush a large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
Unless the bread is quite stale, dry slices in a 250F oven for half an hour, until dry to the touch. Cool, tear in pieces and place in a food processor or blender container; process to make rough crumbs.
Cut mushrooms in 1-inch pieces; remove shiitake stems but include other stems. Cut onion in small dice (if using leek, include tender green parts). Dice celery. Snip sage leaves (to make ¼ cup) and chop parsley (to make 1/2 cup).
Combine half the remaining butter with olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan (or two smaller pans)* over medium-high heat. Cook onion until golden and tender but not browned. Stir in mushrooms, cover, and cook about 10 minutes longer until they soften and begin to give off liquid. Stir in celery, sage and parsley. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and several grindings of pepper. Cook a few minutes longer until celery is tender.
Add wine, stirring until it evaporates. Stir in dried bread. Taste mixture and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Mix in broth and cream. Pour over mushroom-bread mixture and mix well.
Turn skillet contents into buttered dish. Smooth top and lightly brush with remaining butter. (Dressing can be finished in the oven immediately, but it’s better to refrigerate for several hours, allowing bread to absorb liquid.)
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425F. Bake until dressing is cooked through and browned on top, about 25 minutes.
*If using 2 skillets, you will need to combine the contents before adding bread in a pan large enough to hold it all.