Loved throughout Newfoundland, this traditional baked dressing uses pure savoury to transform a bread stuffing into something extraordinarily tasty! The same preparation method is applied whether you bake or pan-fry the dressing, and even if you stuff it into your turkey!
Newfoundland has a dried herb that’s pretty much all its own. It’s called savoury. That’s it – nothing complicated. It’s a dried herb that is grown and harvested in some parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s not commonly found in other parts of North America. And, if I’m being completely honest, many Newfoundland recipes, like this Traditional Newfoundland Savoury Dressing, is nothing without it!
The dried herb has a very distinctive taste and aroma. I grew up with it – my mom would never roast a turkey without savoury. That would be blasphemy! It’s also used in soups, stews, stuffed squid, and even baked into savoury tea biscuits at times.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:
- White Bread – Just a cheap, regular loaf of white sandwich bread – like Wonder Bread – is all you need. I have tried this with other bread types too, but it does change the texture. I made with with a crusty baguette and it was firmer and chewier.
- Onion – One large white onion. There aren’t many ingredients in this recipe, but the onion is very important to get that traditional flavour.
- Olive Oil
- Butter – There’s a lot of butter in here, but it does make a large batch.
- Sugar – The white bread is sweet, but not sweet enough. You will need just a bit of sugar to make it like I did. My mom always used sugar, but I know there are some people who do not.
- Savoury – See the next section for more information.
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper
MT. SCIO FARM
Even though I would personally use nothing but Mt. Scio Farm brand, you can certainly use any dried savoury you prefer. Most Newfoundlanders will tell you – argue with you – that any other savoury is not the real thing. Frankly, being a Newfie, I’d have to agree, but summer savoury is summer savoury; it’s that simple.
If you really want your dressing to be authentic, you can order Newfoundland Savoury online. Just like every other Newfoundlander that loves to bake and cook, I always have a pouch or two on hand just in case. Recently, I ran out completely and couldn’t find any locally. Sometimes, grocery stores like Food Basics carries it; so do most Walmart locations. But, my Aunt Bertha saved the day and mailed me five packages from Newfoundland!
IS DRESSING AND STUFFING THE SAME?
In essence, yes, but there is a difference depending on who you ask. This is how I like to differentiate between the two. Even though this recipe can be prepared dry like the version you see in the photos, you can also prepare it stuffed into a turkey or a chicken.
In my head, I keep the two separate this way – a dry, baked version is called dressing. If it’s stuffed into a turkey or chicken, then it’s called stuffing! I like to call it dressing when it’s in dry form, because I usually use it as an ingredient to “dress” another dish. But, I’ll get to that shortly.
For the most part, in Newfoundland, if you say dressing or if you say stuffing, most people are going to know exactly what you’re talking about. Whether it’s dry or wet, the flavour is the same, so dressing and stuffing can work interchangeably.
I PREFER A WET DRESSING
To be honest, I don’t know if I can decide between the two in terms of which one I like best, because they both have a purpose and a function.
A dry dressing can be used in many ways, whereas I feel that a wetter dressing – one that has been baked in a turkey – is more limited. To me, a wet dressing is best served with hot turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, etc. It’s a typical hot dinner, if you will.
The dry version can be used in more ways. Unlike the wet version, which will cool down and eventually become gummy, the dry version can be cooled and stored into freezer-safe containers and frozen for later use. I always make a double batch and freeze at least half for later.
3 WAYS TO PREPARE THE DRESSING
Once all of the ingredients have been prepared and mixed together, transfer it to a large, shallow baking dish. The goal is to dry out the bread and to brown it. The larger the surface area, the faster this will be. Bake for 90 minutes or until the bread has browned and has dried a little. It’s important to mix the bread thoroughly every 20 minutes during the cooking time. Once done, remove from oven and allow to fully cool.
Prepare all of the ingredients as outlined in the recipe card below. Once everything is mixed together, add it all back to a large skillet and over medium heat, sauté the mixture until is has dried out and has browned. It’s important to stir often, because the bread at the bottom of the skillet can easily burn, especially if you added in the sugar!
This was how my mom would prepare the dressing almost 100% of the time. Again, with all of the ingredients mixed together, gather up a large handful and firmly form it into a ball. Think about making a snowball – that’s what you’re doing here. Push the packed dressing into the turkey, filling the turkey tightly with as much dressing as you can fit it.
This dressing will stay in the turkey for the entire roasting time. It will not be dry, but more like steamed. It will be moist and delicious! Once you remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent it with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Then, scoop out all of the dressing and place it in a serving bowl. Be sure to do this before you start to carve the turkey!
HOW TO USE TRADITIONAL NEWFOUNDLAND SAVOURY DRESSING
Dressing can be used for just about anything, if you ask me! There are two very popular ways to serve it in Newfoundland, and that’s with either a Jigg’s Dinner or Cold Plates.
It’s also served in a dish that is simply called Fries, Dressing, & Gravy. And it’s just that! Hot French fries, topped with a good helping of dressing, and then flooded in hot gravy. It’s delicious! Some people refer to it as a Mess, but I think a Mess should have deep fried hot dog wieners and cheese as well!
You can serve dressing as a side to many dishes. It’s so good with roasted chicken and it’s a great pairing to baked fish. In fact, use it as a crumb topping to your favourite seafood gratin!
If you will stay with me for just one more minute, I’ll tell you one of my favourite ways to use up leftover dressing. I like to add a good layer of it to a deli sandwich. I spoon it right on top of the mayonnaise so that it sticks well. Then, pile on the deli meat and your favourite toppings – delicious!
In our home, every holiday comes with the taste and aroma of a new batch of this dressing. I will make it at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And, because I make a double batch, I can freeze it for up to 3 months, so I always have some on hand for when the mood hits.
As a last note, this recipe does make a large amount. If you would prefer, you can cut the recipe back by half or even a quarter by adjusting the recipe accordingly. This is one recipe that is very forgiving!
Traditional Newfoundland Savoury Dressing
- 675 grams white bread (one large loaf white Wonder Bread is best)
- 1 large white onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried savoury
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a skillet, saute the onions with the olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Melt butter and set aside to cool.
- Add two or three slices of bread to a food processor and pulse until bread is broken down into crumbs (about the size of rice).
- Place all of the grated bread into a large bowl. Add the sugar, savoury, salt, and ground black pepper. Toss well to combine.
- Add in the onions and pour in the melted butter. Use a spatula to toss until the butter and onions have been well incorporated into the bread mixture.
- Transfer to a baking dish. Bake for 90 minutes or until the bread has browned and has dried a little. It's important to mix the bread thoroughly every 20 minutes during the cooking time.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately or allow to cool completely if serving as a cold side, or before freezing for later use.
- Add the mixture to a large skillet and over medium heat, sauté the mixture until is has dried out and has browned. It’s important to stir often, because the bread at the bottom of the skillet can easily burn, especially if you added in the sugar!
- Once browned, remove from heat and continue to stir often until the skillet has cooled own a bit. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely if serving as a cold side, or before freezing for later use.
- Gather up a large handful and firmly form it into a ball. Think about making a snowball – that’s what you’re doing here. Push the packed dressing into the turkey, filling the turkey tightly with as much dressing as you can fit it.
- This dressing will stay in the turkey for the entire roasting time. It will not be dry, but more like steamed. Once you remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent it with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Then, scoop out all of the dressing and place it in a serving bowl. Be sure to do this before you start to carve the turkey!