Stuffing is far and away my favorite dish of Thanksgiving. Growing up, it was usually referred to as stuffing, however, I can recall other people calling it dressing. I came to learn it had to do with how it was prepared and baked, in or out of the turkey or chicken.
For most of my adult cooking life, I used the cubed Pepperidge Farm bread stuffing mix available at the supermarket. It's what my Mom always used. She baked the stuffing in a buttered pyrex dish and I've followed suit. The cooking rebel in me has made stuffing with focaccia, challah, cornbread and French baguettes. Honestly, they've all been good because the base ingredients have always included onions or shallots, celery, fresh parsley, Old Bay Seasoning, butter, salt and pepper as well as chicken or turkey broth. The addition of minced giblets and liver have also been a part of my stuffing (I just don't tell the kids).
Many of the best cooks I know don't deviate (not too far, anyway) from their tried and true dishes, especially on Thanksgiving. Their family and friends have come to look forward to the taste of those dishes and aren't always open to trying a "new and improved" version. Just the other night over dinner, friends were discussing their plans for Thanksgiving. It was clear that people look forward to eating the same things year after year.
My friend Terri recently shared that her family will usually confirm ahead of a holiday meal that she's going to make their favorite dishes. This goes for my family, as well. My sister and I have tried to introduce a few new additions to the Thanksgiving spread over the years; she and I are usually the only ones eating that dish. Maddening, but they like these traditional foods served in a traditional way.
Every year around this time, I get inspired to look up recipes for Thanksgiving and see what other folks are up to. The following link includes some yummy looking "non traditional" stuffing recipes, including gluten-free walnut and kale, mushroom, leek and cornbread, and caramelized onion, apple and sausage whole grain stuffing.
And here's a "dressing" that screams try me sometime this season. I met Chef Lee a few years ago when he was in Cleveland for a book signing and talk at a local library. Recipe from Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky.
Happy cooking as you prepare for Thanksgiving!
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food and lifestyle company. Pat's Granola is sold online at www.patsgranola.com and is also available at selected Northeast Ohio businesses including:
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