Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without a nice heaping scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy along with a generous helping of stuffing to go with it. Am I right or am I right?
When it comes to stuffing, or dressing as some call it I only have two odd stories to share with you. My earliest memory of eating stuffing comes from many family gatherings at an all you can eat buffet called Royal Fork. There we were, all 30 of us. When you’re young and hungry, a trip to Royal Fork felt like a feast fit for…. royalty. The whole concept of an all you can eat American food buffet back then seemed pretty awesome. And every time we went, I would always get 2nds and 3rds of stuffing and mashed potatoes along with fried chicken and “graveyard” sodas. I could go on and on about my adventures at this restaurant but I will spare you the details. Moving on. My second memory of stuffing has all to do with my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing. It was pretty basic in every way but because my mom made it, it was also very special.
Every year mom would make the same recipe and I used to grab secret bites of uncooked stuffing when her back was turned to the oven. I don’t even remember why I did this but I’m pretty sure it had to do with the fact that stuffing is essentially herbed bread croutons with chicken stock added to it and baked to a nice tender yet moist texture. One strange memory I do have is taking leftovers and microwaving the stuffing in a mug. Then I would add blue cheese salad dressing to it and stir it before eating it. I don’t remember the reasoning behind this but I did enjoy the flavor and any year there were no leftovers I remember feeling offended by the fact I could not eat my weird stuffing-in-a-mug concoction.
Oh boy, have things changed. I still like stuffing (hold the blue cheese dressing) but not nearly as much as I did as a child. Every year mom still makes her traditional classic dressing and I always make a different one to add to our table. She likes mine better and I like hers better – there is something about eating and liking other people’s cooking that holds true for me. I think it has everything to do with her recipe being an extension of her and all the fond Thanksgiving memories I have of our family growing up and watching my mom in the kitchen. This is the nostalgic power of family Thanksgiving meals and the memories we take away from our time together.
Today I have this year’s stuffing recipe studded with bacon, apples, dried cranberries, mushrooms, celery, and onions. Using store bought corn bread cubes along with white bread to help the structure of the stuffing, this dish is delicious, tender, and moist. I love the hints of the tarty sweetness from the granny smith apples and dried cranberries along with the smoky flavor from the bacon. If you aren’t a fan of corn bread stuffing, feel free to use regular stuffing.
I know many of you are in the final stages of planning your Thanksgiving menu. If you’re still searching for a good stuffing recipe, look no further. Have a nice weekend.
- bacon, cooked and crumbled,
- medium yellow onion, chopped
- celery stalks, chopped
- Kosher salt
- dried sage or ¼ cup fresh sage, minced
- dried thyme, or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- crushed rosemary
- sliced mushrooms
- granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
- dried cranberries
- cubed seasoned cornbread stuffing
- white bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
- chicken broth
- eggs, beaten
- For the full recipe please visit Alice's PBS column here.