If only I had patience.
'Tis not a virtue of mine.
I recently picked up the latest issues of EveryDay with Rachael Ray and Food Network magazines (my monthly indulgences) and I have been swooning over all of the Thanksgiving recipes.
And, frankly, I didn't want to wait another month to have turkey and stuffing. So, I went out and bought what I needed to throw together a quick(er) version of what will be on my Thanksgiving table next month! And, we enjoyed it tonight ... here in October. It was just what I was craving. And, it reminded me that there need be no rules to cooking. Why do we often think we have to wait until Thanksgiving to prepare turkey? Who made that rule? Well, rules are often made to be broken. What a culinary rebel I am! Ha!
And, just a little side note ... I'm thinking this would be perfect for someone only cooking for a few people at Thanksgiving, too. Maybe a husband and wife. All of the expected (and cherished) tastes and flavor components of Thanksgiving dinner without the hassle of a big bird! Also, the turkey here is super inexpensive ... around four or five dollars for a three-pack of tenderloins. This fed my family of five with enough leftover for two people the next day.
Now, I'm going to try to guide you through my stuffing "recipe," but be forewarned that I don't always measure when it comes to making stuffing. If my loosey-goosey "recipe" doesn't suit you, you can always fall back on your own favorite stuffing recipe, search for one online ... or break down and buy the boxed kind (I promise that it won't be as good, though!).
That last part of my sentence there was in reference to the boxed kind. I'm sure your own stuffing recipe is to die for! ;)
Regarding the bread I use in my stuffing ... every time we have little ends or pieces of loaves of bread (whatever the variety) that have gotten a little too dry or hard, I cut them up and throw them into a gallon-size plastic zip-top bag. I keep the bag in my freezer and when it's full, I make stuffing. Just allow to thaw a little bit, spread cubes out onto a baking sheet pan and toast in a 250 degree oven until completely dried out. You can buy prepackaged stuffing bread, however, if you prefer, or cut up a loaf of bakery bread.
Boneless turkey breast tenderloins (mine came in a three-pack totaling 1.25 pounds)
7 - 8 cups of cubed bread (dried out in oven)
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped finely
1 firm apple, cored and diced into cubes (peel left on)
A handful of dried cherries, cranberries or raisins
Several cups of chicken stock or broth (maybe 3 - 4)
Butter (about a half of a stick)
After your cubed bread is toasted and dried, dump it into a large mixing bowl.
Sauté the onion and celery in a teaspoon of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Season with a little salt and pepper as it cooks. Throw in the apples, stir and cook for about three more minutes. Turn burner off and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Whisk the two eggs in a small bowl, then pour over the bread. Add in the cooled veggies and apples. Add in the cherries, the sage, the poultry seasoning and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Pour in enough chicken stock or broth to moisten all of the bread. I probably use 3 - 4 cups. If you have some left, you can always add in a little more as the dish bakes if you see it is looking too dry.
Pour stuffing into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Place some dots of butter on the surface of the stuffing ... maybe a couple of teaspoons worth. Set aside.
Smear a couple of teaspoons of room temperature butter all over all sides of the tenderloins. Season all sides with salt, pepper and a dash of poultry seasoning.
Place tenderloins on top of stuffing.
Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil, brush tenderloins with a little melted butter or stock so they do not dry out. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or so or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the turkey reaches 165 degrees.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing turkey and serving. Perfect with some homemade mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and/or gravy.