Getting stuffy in here


Kara Babcock, Wikimedia Commons

Stuffing, or dressing, is a favorite part of most holiday turkey dinners.

There have been a couple of times when I have featured stuffing recipes with my kitchen pals this time of year, so I thought I would share some more. One (healthful apple stuffing) is a repeat, which happens to be my youngest son’s favorite. The others cover some new territory, at least for me.


I must admit that I make the same turkey dressing year after year, and I pack that stuffing right into the uncooked turkey before roasting it. My son gets his favorite cooked separately.


My family has always roasted stuffed turkeys and flavor-wise, I much prefer it that way. But everyone can and should prepare their meals however they choose to. I love to learn how others have their own special ways of cooking. We can all learn something from each other, not only with cooking, but also in other areas of daily life.


The world is a crazy place right now, but we can count many blessings if we look for them.


Healthful apple stuffing


4 cups prepared stuffing (1 box stuffing mix)


1 cup diced apples (or 1/2 cup diced apple and 1/2 cup dried cranberries)


1 cup diced onion


1 cup diced celery


1 tablespoon butter


3 cups cooked brown rice


1 cup low sodium broth


1. Preheat oven to 350. Saute the apples, onion and celery in butter until soft.


2. Add the prepared stuffing, cooked rice and broth. Mix well, place in a casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.


3. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.


Stuffing with fresh herbs


Can be baked in the turkey, if desired.


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish


1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)


2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions


1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch sliced celery


1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage


1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme


2 teaspoons kosher salt


1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided


2 large eggs


1. Preheat oven to 250. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.


2. Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Allow mixture to cool.


3. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160 degrees, about 40 minutes.


4. Continue to bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes longer. Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Oyster and cornbread stuffing


Okay, this one has the potential to get me burned at the stake, because there is no shortage of people who hate oysters. But years ago, I made oyster stuffing and liked it. I did have to double the oysters when simmering them, because I always managed to eat half before they even made it into the mix. (I like to simmer them first, but you don’t have to.) This recipe is adapted from The Food Network.


20 oysters, shucked, plus their liquor (I use oysters that come in a jar)


3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, recipe follows


2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


3 medium shallots, thinly sliced


3 celery stalks (with leaves), thinly sliced


2 teaspoons kosher salt


Freshly ground black pepper


3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves


2 to 3 tablespoons white dry vermouth


1. Put the oysters in a strainer over a medium bowl to catch their liquor. Reserve 3/4 cup of the oyster liquor. Check oysters for bits of shell or sand. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled cornbread and oysters.


2. In a small saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Add the bacon and cook for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.


3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 cup of the butter. When the foaming subsides, add the bacon, shallot, celery, salt, and season with pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, reserved oyster liquor, and vermouth and bring to a boil. Transfer the shallot-herb mixture to the cornbread and oysters and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400.


4. Transfer the cornbread mixture to a buttered 1-quart gratin dish, dot with the remaining butter, and bake until browned and crusty, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Cornbread for stuffing


1 cup stone-ground cornmeal


2 tablespoons flour


1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon sugar


1/4 teaspoon fine salt


1 large egg


1/2 cup whole milk


2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing the pan


1. Butter a 3 1/4-by-5 3/4-by-2-inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.


2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and combine with the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and mix lightly with a rubber spatula until a thick batter is formed. Stir in the melted butter until just incorporated.


3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.


Sausage and apple stuffing


16 cups 1-inch bread cubes (1 1/2 pound loaf)


1 stick unsalted butter


2 cups diced onion


2 cups diced celery, including leaves


2 Granny Smith apples (or your favorite), unpeeled, cored and diced


2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


1 tablespoon kosher salt


1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed


1 cup turkey or chicken broth


1 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 300. Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.


2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter and add onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.


3. In the same skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.


4. Add the turkey or chicken broth and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm. Note: You can also stuff this mixture into a turkey.

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