When I was growing up, Thanksgiving dressing was bread, onions, celery, sage and broth. I was asked to bring the dressing to our family dinner several years ago, and decided to spark things up a bit. My recipe got lots of raves and now I am the official dressing maker when we have turkey.
Needless to say, I will have photos after Thanksgiving.
Unwrap and set bread out overnight to dry partially.
If desired, leave in oven (with pilot on if gas) to help dry.
Cut bread into 1/2' cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
Chop onion and celery.
Gather broth, herbs, seasonings, craisins, and parmesan cheese.
Toast pecans either in a hot dry skillet or on a baking sheet in the oven at 300° until fragrant but not browned. Stir constantly in the skillet or occasionally in the oven. Watch carefully. When toasted and fragrant, remove from skillet or hot baking sheet to cool and avoid overbrowning.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and celery when melted and cook until translucent. Turn heat to medium or medium low. Add half of the broth to the skillet, then add all of the herbs and seasonings except craisins, cheese and nuts.
Simmer vegetables in broth with seasonings for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mixture in the skillet to the bread cubes in the large mixing bowl, distributing the broth over the bread. Mix lightly and taste to adjust seasonings if desired. Remember that you will be adding parmesan later which is salty.
Add extra broth to moisten the dressing to where it is just slightly more moist than what you want the final dish to be. Add Craisins, nuts and parmesan and toss to combine well, trying not to compact the dressing. (I prefer dressing that is moist but not soggy, and not packed down in the dish.)
Place the dressing in a large casserole and either cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until baking, or cover with foil, punching a few holes in the foil to let some steam escape and place the casserole in a preheated oven at 350° until hot (about 35 to 45 minutes), removing the foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes to brown the top.