Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

The right stuff for turkey

There are many of us who feel that the stuffing is the best part of the Thanksgiving meal, with no disrespect intended for old Tom. He is a fine old bird but it is the stuffing that varies from home to home and from year to year. There is such an infinite variety of possibilities when it comes to what to thrust into that big (but never big enough) cavity.

It is easy to see where the term "stuffing" comes from â¤" you stuff it into the bird or into a casserole to bake. But the alternate word, "dressing" seems a bit farfetched. Whatever you want to call the concoction that goes into the bird, provocative recipes are at hand!

Traditional Southern Corn Bread Stuffing

This old Southern recipe has a double whammy of favorite Southern breads--corn bread and biscuits. Both can be made from mixes well ahead of turkey day and frozen to use when you're ready.

4 cups crumbled corn bread, dried
2 cups crumbled baking powder biscuits, dried
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 3/4 to 2 cups chicken broth
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cried sage, crushed

Combine cornbread and biscuits; set aside. Cook onion and celery in butter about 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in about 1 cup broth; add egg, thyme and sage. Combine onion mixture with breads mixture, tossing gently to coat. Add more broth to moisten the stuffing as desired. Transfer stuffing to cavities (front and back) in bird, or into a buttered casserole dish. If using a casserole, bake, covered, in a 325 F oven for 45 minutes or until heated through. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing

Either dried or fresh mushrooms can be used. The stuffing can be made 2 days ahead which is nice to do unless you have a lot of help on the day you're entertaining.

2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried porcini or morel (or any other) mushroom


1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms of any variety
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups wild rice, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons dry sherry or vermouth, optional

Combine onion, 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid from mushrooms (or chicken stock), thyme and nutmeg. Boil over high heat, uncovered, stirring often until liquid evaporates and onions begin to stick. Add remaining soaking liquid, mushrooms, broth, wild rice and sherry; stir to free browned bits. Cover and bring to a boil; simmer gently until rice is tender to bite and grains begin to split open, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid. Serve rice hot. If making ahead, let cool, cover and chill up to 2 days. Combine with reserved liquid and heat until boiling; drain and serve. OR, stuff into cavity of bird before roasting.

Soaking Dried Mushrooms: Over high heat combine 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup (about 1/2 oz) dried mushrooms. Cover and bring to a boil; remove from heat and let stand until cool. Squeeze mushrooms gently to release grit. Finely chop mushrooms. Carefully pour soaking liquid into another container and save to use as described above; discard gritty residue.

Sweet Potato Stuffing with Persimmons & Plums

This is also delicious with roast ham or roast pork. Dried cranberries or prunes can be substituted for the dried plums.

3 sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 ounce dried red plums (about 6 halves)
2 ripe Fuyu persimmons
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake potatoes until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool; peel. Cut 1 potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Mash remaining 2 potatoes with butter. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Soak plums in 1 cup boiling water until plump, 5 to 7 minutes. Dip persimmons in remaining water for 10 seconds each; rinse in cold water, then stem, peel and core. Cut persimmons and plums into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Stir together fruit, sugar, zest and cardamom. Scrape in vanilla seeds. Add salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes. To bake stuffing. Cover with foil in 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Remove foil; bake until heated through, about 5 minutes more. To Cook in Turkey: Immediately pack loosely in turkey cavities. Makes about 4 cups; 6 servings.

Farro & Sausage Stuffing

Farro in the "antique" wheat that used to be raised in Italy. During WW II the Italians needed the land and the growing of faro stopped. Production has recently been revived and it is delicious. If you can't find farro you could substitute American wheat kernels but not from grain that has been sprayed.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed, meat crumbled
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch cubed, plus 1/4 cup chopped fronds
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups faro
10 ounces kale, ribs discarded and leaves thinly sliced crosswise (11 cups)
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
Narrow strips of zest from 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pot over medium high heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add sausage; cook, breaking into small pieces, until golden brown. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, the fennel, onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring until fennel and onion are softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until reduced by half. Stir in 2 cups water, the faro, kale, stock, zest, 2 tablespoons fronds, 1 tablespoon each rosemary and oil, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until faro is tender, 15 minutes. Stir in sausage, 1 tablespoon rosemary and 2 tablespoons fronds. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or pack into turkey cavities and roast in the bird. Makes about 8 cups; serves 8 to 10.

How we do love stuffing! Good stuffing into our stuffed stomachs.

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