Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I spend more time than you would think a person could planning every part of the meal from the appetizers to the main course to the wine to the desserts, as well as the table settings and decorations. I had planned on doing a test-run of some new stuffing recipes for this Thanksgiving, then along came Swanson Broth and their Great Stuffing Debate. Thanks to their generous sponsorship, I was given a $200 Visa gift card to shop for ingredients for my Thanksgiving test run (including Swanson broth--I prefer the Natural Goodness reduced sodium chicken stock) and I spent this afternoon making and cooking two stuffings (or dressings, as they will be served outside the bird) and roasting a turkey breast to go with them.
Want to win your own gift card? Read on!
The first stuffing I made was an oyster-sausage-pine nut dressing. Oyster stuffing is such a classic and yet I had never had it before. When I asked my husband if he'd ever had oyster stuffing he hesitantly said, "Yes," and made a face that, after almost 17 years of marriage, I knew meant he wasn't a fan.
After prepping the ingredients, I started to get really excited. As I sauteed the celery and onion in butter, the house very quickly started to smell like Thanksgiving. I adapted the recipe above (which I halved for my family) by using reduced fat pork sausage (gotta cut out the fat where I can) and omitting the wine in favor of more chicken broth. I think the wine would have been wonderful, I just didn't have any open bottles on hand and didn't want to open one for this purpose. I will add wine on Thanksgiving when I know there will be people here to drink it.
The oysters were fresh and briny and I had to resist making them into shooters. I also increased the amount of fresh herbs, because I like a herby dressing. Once the dressing was assembled, I put it into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan, moistened it with more broth (drizzled over the top), and stuck it in the fridge to await baking. Then I tackled the next dressing.
STUFFING #2: CHORIZO-CORN BREAD DRESSING
I've had corn bread dressing in the past, and I have to say, I think love of corn bread dressing could be an inherently Southern thing. Or, "what you grow up eating" thing. I didn't grow up with it and I've really tried (hard!) to love it over the years. It's usually too sweet and too "crumb-y" for me, but spicing it up with chorizo and herbs definitely was appealing. I used this recipe from Sunset magazine.
I was intrigued by the non-traditional addition of carrots, and the abundance of garlic and fresh herbs. It definitely added to the flavor of the dish. If you can, I suggest getting your chorizo from your local Mexican market. It's much better than anything you can get in your supermarket (if your market even carries chorizo). I also want to try this again using Soyrizo, I product I really enjoy.
The chorizo-corn bread stuffing. Looks kinda like the other stuffing.
Based on what was left in the serving dishes tonight, the oyster-sausage-pine nut dressing was the runaway hit. There is something about the "ocean-y" quality of the oysters that really complimented the sausage and pine nuts. I thought that the oysters would overwhelm the entire dish, especially since I added some of the liquor to the bread crumbs (along with broth), to moisten them, but it didn't. The sausage, onion, and herbs added enough of a counter-point to the oyster flavor. My husband, who had turned his nose up at the thought of eating oyster dressing declared, "I didn't like oyster dressing before because you didn't make it." Then he helped himself to a third serving. (He loves my cooking and that always makes me feel great!) The girls ate the stuffing only because I didn't tell them it had oysters in it and didn't serve them any. They aren't oyster fans...yet.
The chorizo stuffing, not surprisingly, was big hit with Wallie who liked its sweetness. I felt it was too sweet to go with turkey, but I think it would have been good with something like pork loin. I also thought that it could have used more chorizo flavor. I felt it was overwhelmed by the corn bread which I wasn't expecting at all. I would like to try this again using a less-sweet corn bread recipe and maybe twice as much chorizo. The dressing can stand it.
And the winner is: Oyster-Sausage-Pine Nut dressing. I highly recommend it, as an alternative or an addition whatever stuffing you plan on making this year, especially if you like cooked oysters.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY! WHO WANTS A $150 VISA GIFT CARD OF THEIR OWN?
The stuffing comparison was a very interesting exercise and exactly what the Great Stuffing Debate is all about. One person's "yum" is another person's "yuck." My family are stuffing traditionalists, which means our stuffing consists of:
- bread cubes
- unsalted butter
- fresh herbs
- salt and pepper
And that's it. Once cooked and cooled, it's stuffed into the turkey and it's been that way since as long as I can remember. It's how I make my own stuffing and even as I was tasting stuffings tonight, I was missing our traditional, simple stuffing. We don't add:
- fruit (dried or fresh)
- giblets or turkey
- rice (wild or otherwise)
But you might! Which is exactly what I want to know! How do you do your stuffing? Is it just not Thanksgiving unless you have that unique family recipe, and if so, what is it? What must your stuffing contain and what must it never, ever include?
Let me know in the comments and I will pick one lucky winner at random to win a $150 Visa gift card to offset your Thanksgiving meal costs.
- One entry per person, please. (No multiple entries.)
- The PR company (not me) is doing the card fulfillment, so if you win PLEASE don't email me asking where your card is unless it's really, really, really late. Like "it hasn't arrived by the 4th of July" late.
- Speaking of winning, make sure you include a real, working email with your comment, so that if you do win, I can contact you.
- Contest ends Friday, November 19, 2010 at midnight California time.
- I endorse Blog with Integrity, blog transparency, and full disclosure which is why I told you right off the bat that I received a $200 Visa gift card from Swanson Broth. I had planned to write a post about stuffing anyway and I'm already a consumer of their product. I love it when things work out so fortuitously.
- Lastly, good luck!
Update: I've picked a winner! Congrats Judy Bradley! I'll be in touch soon!