ingredient secrets

by erin thursby
Stale bread isn’t useless. If it hasn’t gone moldy that is. Dried, stale bread is the base for everything from stuffings and croutons to bread puddings.
Italian, French and cornbread are all great bases for a good homemade stuffing. Simply cube the bread and toss it in the oven with a light coating of olive oil or melted butter with seasonings. Let it get a little crispy for stuffing and very crispy for croutons. Crumble some of the bread cubes to get your base for stuffing started.
Folks still tend to think of stuffing as something you put inside a turkey, but I’m anti-bird stuffing myself. First, stuffed birds take longer to cook. They soak up the juices from the turkey, but in order to get your stuffing to the safest temperature, you have to overcook the bird a bit. Stuffing tastes just as good when made outside the turkey.
If you don’t have stale bread to spare, there’s no shame in using a box recipe for stuffing. Really, if Stove Top does it as well as you do with less sweat involved, why not? I like to fool guests into thinking that my stuffing is entirely homemade by adding ingredients and using Stove Top as a base. Hopefully none of my potential guests are reading this. I add small diced carrots, onions, celery and fresh herbs. I steam them a little before mixing them into Stove Top Stuffing. I also like to add a bit of heavy cream and chicken broth to give it a lovely rich flavor. You can also toss in your homemade croutons when making it, just ensure that they get good and soaked. When I want more control over the amount of seasoning in the stuffing, I just use plain bread crumbs as a base.
Another tasty thing you can make with your stale bread is bread pudding. Crisp it well with butter in the oven, then place it in the bottom of a casserole dish. Soak it with a custard or a sweet heavy cream, layering it with stewed or dried fruits and several layers of the bread. The bottommost layer should be the crispiest so it will hold up, but the rest doesn’t have to be as crisp. Middle layers can vary more in texture.
Whatever you decide to do with your stale bread this season, have fun experimenting!