Thanksgiving

Stuffing

by  Katherine Reback

nyc_1900.jpg My grandfather and several of my great uncles had a fur store in N.Y.  It was called Windsor Furs (to indicate, one can only guess, a regal presence previously unknown to 14th Street and 7th Avenue). Uncle Simon and Uncle Harry kept Windsor Furs well into their 90’s. And I would like to tell you all the funny, memorable stories I know about them and the shop.  But the thing that springs to mind at this moment is their business card. 

“Windsor Furs - Shop Here! Soon you will know the reason why.”

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Apple and Walnut Cornbread Stuffing

Aunt Lovey’s Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Bob Willett's Stuffing

Bruce Aidells' Cornbread Stuffing

Felicity's Oyster Stuffing

Lori's Thanksgiving Stuffing

Mama Montgomery's Rice Stuffing

Mom's French Meat Stuffing

Sausage, Dried Cranberry and Apple Stuffing

breadpuddingEver since I first tried it, bread pudding has become one of my favorite homey desserts. Growing up I never knew it even existed. In my household, old bread was made into breadcrumbs not dessert (blame it on eastern European frugality). If you like French toast then there's no reason you wouldn't like bread pudding—they have similar preparations but with different cooking methods. I actually love it more than French toast, which is hard to say for someone who, as a kid, demanded his mom make French toast for breakfast every Saturday morning.

There's something special about the soft, moist cubes of bread in this dessert that makes me go weak in the knees. When I traveled through England during college, I couldn't help noticing bread and butter pudding (or spotted dick as they commonly call it) on almost every restaurant menu—and I always ordered it without restraint. It always came drenched in custard, which is the traditional way to serve it.

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stuffing.herb .10.sm Stuffing is never my department. My mom has always made the stuffing (another one of my dad’s favorites) and she ALWAYS stuffs it in the bird.

I must admit, I have never made stuffing before making this recipe. I made it last year as a test, prior to Thanksgiving, and it was so good that Eli ate half the pan.

Regardless if it is Thanksgiving or 90* outside, if I ask Eli what he wants for dinner, his answer always has stuffing in the sentence.

Last year marked a new tradition; our holiday menu isn’t complete without this dish.

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sweet-potatoes.jpgdavidlatt.jpgIn our house Thanksgiving is the one day a year my wife is in charge of the cooking.  Because I work at home, part of my day-time ritual is to shop for and cook our dinners.  But for Thanksgiving, I’m her sous chef.  She tells me the menu and I prep the mise en place, so everything is ready for her.

Besides corn bread stuffing with Italian sausages, dried apricots, and pecans, a 24-pound organic turkey with mushroom gravy, home made cranberry sauce, string beans sautéed with almonds, oven roasted Brussels sprouts, and an arrugula salad with persimmons, pomegranate seeds, and roasted hazelnuts, she makes garlic mashed potatoes. 

This past year I’ve been experimenting with sweet potatoes.  I made them for her to see what she thought. With a light dusting of cayenne, after you’ve enjoyed the sweetness of the sweet potato, your mouth is surprised with a hint of heat that drives you back for more.  She agreed that the yams are delicious: sweet, salty, savory, “meaty” (from the mushrooms”), and buttery from the butter.  For Thanksgiving they’ll be added to the menu.

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basic-stuffing.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpgIn my book, Stuffing has held its place in my penalty box along with green bell peppers; cilantro, cumin and lime flavored Life Savers. For me, it’s the Buzz Kill of Thanksgiving.

I have never met a Stuffing I’ve liked, but not for obvious reasons.  I find the premise of a food item that’s made from torn up bread to be, somehow, cheating, not to mention being a food group that’s utterly unappetizing to me.  Justin Wilson, The Cajun Cook from a while back once made something that even he copped to being the height of poverty cuisine; faux potato salad! It was made with old torn up bread.  Nothing wrong with poverty cuisine by the way.  Southern fried and most Jewish food is exactly that. But substituting potatoes with bread is just sad.
 
Wikipedia outlines the history of stuffing dating back to Roman times where you could get anything from a chicken to a dormouse stuffed with vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, spelt (which is described as ‘old cereal’ by Wikipedia) and a variety of organ meat still considered palatable today. 

Nothing wrong with that, I say. But, as it had evolved and morphed, it has picked up and been dominated by bread.  Gross. Especially when you consider the quality of bread in our country.

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