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Crock-Pot® dressing is bread-based stuffing that is simmered for several hours in a slow-cooker. Long cooking times over low heat help the spices and liquid in most Crock-Pot® dressing recipes combine and marry with very little work on the part of the cook. Making dressing this way not only eliminates the need to stuff a chicken or turkey, it may also be a make-ahead time-saver for cooks in a rush. This may be especially important on harvest holidays, like Thanksgiving in North America.
Making Crock-Pot® dressing, or stuffing, almost always starts with bread. Many recipes call for white bread, but cooks may use any kind of bread they like best. Rye, pumpernickel, whole grain, potato bread, and even cornbread are all acceptable bases. In fact, some cooks might enjoy playing with different combinations of bread each time they make this recipe.
Cooks should typically keep in mind, especially when experimenting, that the flavor of the bread base generally dictates what the other flavors in the Crock-Pot® dressing should be. The liquid in these recipes is usually chicken stock, but hearty breads, like rye, can generally stand up to the stronger flavor of beef stock. Vegetarians and vegans creating this dish may want to use vegetable stock and butter-free whole grain bread. Chicken stock is often the liquid of choice because it is flavorful, but subtle, so it usually adds flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Most Crock-Pot® dressing recipes also feature a variety of seasonings. Chopped onions, chives, or shallots usually go into a pan with minced garlic and other herbs and spices. These depend largely on the cook’s taste. Thyme, rosemary, marjoram, black pepper, sage, and salt are all common herbs of choice, but some cooks may also enjoy paprika, cumin, and a scoop or two of poultry seasoning.
The chopped onions and garlic generally go into a pan with butter or olive oil until they’re brown and soft. They then get poured into the bottom of a Crock-Pot® and covered with coin-sized pieces of torn bread. The cook may also cube the bread with a knife, but tearing it can be entertaining, especially if one has children that like to help. The stock then goes over the bread; there should be just enough to soak the bread without causing it to fall apart. The last ingredient is generally a few small spoonfuls of butter or vegan margarine.
Some cooks like to add veggies to their Crock-Pot® dressing to give it an extra nutrition and flavor boost. Celery is traditional, but cooks that love to experiment may add small cubes of hard squashes, like butternut and acorn. Others might enjoy the slight sweetness of cubed yams. A little cumin and coriander in either of these variations sometimes helps to bring out the sweetness of the squash and yams. Once all the ingredients are in the Crock-Pot®, the cook need only turn it on to the low setting for six to eight hours.
@Grivusangel -- I've had Crock-Pot dressing too, and it was very good, but you don't get the same results when you just throw everything into the pot.
My dressing is more labor-intensive, but the results are always, always worth it. I make my cornbread and let it cool. Meanwhile, I chop fresh sage and thyme, along with celery and onion and saute it all in a pot. I add a can of cream of chicken soup and start seasoning. When it's like I want it, it all goes into the fridge overnight.
The next day, I crumble my cornbread with the food processor, along with about six slices of white bread and set it aside while I gently warm the soup
mixture on the stove. I add the bread and a can of chicken broth, then stir, season and add more broth as necessary, until it's like I want it. Again, it all goes into the fridge overnight.
On the day I serve it, I warm it again over the stove, re-season, add two eggs and stir thoroughly. Then I bake it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, until it's golden brown. I guarantee it's better than any dressing from a Crock-Pot!
A lady at my church makes Crock-Pot dressing, and it's pretty good. She brought the dressing to a fellowship dinner and I tried it. It was very good. She used cornbread as her base, which is what I personally prefer. My mom always cooked hers on top of the stove and then in the oven, which is how I've always done it, but I could be persuaded to switch to the Crock-Pot method because it's so easy. You just throw everything into the pot and turn it on. Doesn't get much easier than that!