Four Ways To Make Stuffing


Stuffing is a Thanksgiving tradition, but it hearkens back to a much earlier time. The act of putting dried bread, celery, and onions in a meat product dates back to ancient Rome. Medieval people called it "farce," while Victorians called it "dressing." While the FDA now recommends that we cook the stuffing separately, it's still an integral part of our holiday meal.

Stuffing has long been a flexible food. The ancients stuffed creatures like dormice and hares with nuts, cereals, and vegetables. While stuffing now traditionally comes in a bag, it can be bland on its own. Luckily, its flexible nature- it can absorb the taste of many different ingredients- gives you plenty of room to get creative.

Wild Rice Stuffing

Traditionally, stuffing uses dried bread. But for the gluten-free crowd, you can also use wild rice instead of gluten products. For a nice wild rice stuffing, use a cup and a half of wild long-grain rice instead of regular stuffing. Begin by cooking the rice: bring it to a boil and let simmer for ten minutes. Stir in celery, chicken broth, onions, and dried cranberries. Once the mixture is done, you can cook it in the oven for 50 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the broth.

Using wild rice is a slightly healthier way of making stuffing. Regular stuffing is composed of dried white bread, but wild rice adds protein and fiber to the dish. If you're looking for a fiber-rich alternative to regular stuffing, consider using long-grain wild rice.

Orange Juice Stuffing

This recipe uses store-bought stuffing from the bag, but spices it up with the addition of orange juice, sliced apples, and chopped walnuts. Instead of cooking the stuffing in a regular chicken or vegetable broth, try substituting orange juice instead. Add the sliced apples and walnuts, then cook in the oven according to the package directions. It's a low-sodium alternative that gives the dish a delicious, fruity taste.

Many other fruits work well in stuffing. In addition to adding fruit juice to your stuffing (we recommend fresh-squeezed), you can add dried cranberries, sliced apples or pears, or raisins. You can also use lemon or orange zest in your stuffing if you like a fruitier flavor.

Challah Stuffing

For many people, Thanksgiving falls around the same time as Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday. You can use challah, which is the traditional Jewish Shabbat bread, in your stuffing. Chop up two loaves of challah and leave for a day to go slightly stale. You can then substitute it for store-bought stuffing packages and make in a regular recipe.

Mushroom and Bacon Stuffing

Stuffing doesn't always have to be about sweeter flavors. You can add more of a savory taste with wild mushrooms, bacon bits, and chopped walnuts. Other savory stuffing foods include figs and toasted brioche cheese, which both go great with mushroom and bacon. When it comes to stuffing, the world is yours- you can customize it to your favorite flavors, whether they're sweeter, spicier, or more savory.

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Thanksgiving Stuffing, A Day Early

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Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes

The trick to mastering the Thanksgiving meal is finding time saver recipes that can be prepared at least one day in advance. To help you do this, here are two make ahead stuffing recipes that can be prepared days ahead of time. Anything you can prepare ahead will lessen the stress on the holiday.

Traditional Stuffing

16 cups cubed white bread, dried out in advance
1/2 cup butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Cut a loaf of crusty white bread into 1-inch cubes. Let sit for at least 24 hours to dry. You may also place the pan of bread cubes into a warm oven for 30 minutes to speed up the process.

After the bread cubes are completely dried, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and celery. Cook until tender, stirring frequently.

Add salt, poultry seasoning, pepper, thyme, and sage. Stir in chicken broth.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Ladle the chicken broth mixture over the bread cubes, tossing lightly as you go.

Spoon stuffing into a greased casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

This make ahead stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. After spooning it into the casserole dish, simply cover, and place into the refrigerator. On Thanksgiving day, remove it from the fridge while the oven is preheating, and then bake as directed.

Cornbread Stuffing

4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/4 cups chopped celery
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
6 cups cubed cornbread, dried out in advance (or 16 ounce package cornbread stuffing mix)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apples

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook until tender, stirring frequently. Add white wine and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated. Add broth, and cook until heated.

In a large mixing bowl, pour chicken broth mixture over cornbread. Add cranberries and apples. Gently toss.

Transfer stuffing to a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

This cornbread stuffing can be a real time saver when covered and kept in the refrigerator up to one day in advance. Remove from fridge while oven is preheating, and then bake on Thanksgiving day.