Melissa Elsmo

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and if you are anything like me you are already planning out your holiday menu. Stuffing is the perfect dish to change up from year-to-year! I’ve created a quartet of both creative and traditional Thanksgiving stuffing recipes to bring a vast variety of flavor to a traditional holiday plate. In fact, I served each of them them alongside identical offerings of turkey, green beans and cranberry sauce to further celebrate the diversity stuffing brings to a Thanksgiving dinner.

The Outlier: White Caste Slider Stuffing with Apples and Leeks

More than a few stuffing lovers have passionately proclaimed their key stuffing ingredient was nothing more than a drive –thru burger! While this recipe celebrates the unexpected additional of fast food at the Thanksgiving table, the resulting dish boasts a deceptively traditional flavor. Feel free to buy the burgers a day ahead and store them in the refrigerator until ready to prep.

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Celery ribs, sliced
  • 1 Leek, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ¼ Cup dried cranberries
  • 12-14 White Castle Orginal Sliders (hold the pickles) chopped
  • ¼ Cup chicken stock (more or less to taste)

Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the celery and leeks and sweat until softened. Season with salt and pepper and add the apple, rosemary and sage to the pan. Cook stirring frequently until apples are tender. Stir in the cranberries and allow the mixture to cool. Mix the cooled apple mixture with the diced burgers. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and transfer to a buttered baking dish. Cover and bake the stuffing at 375 for 45 minutes (uncover for the last 20 minutes) until hot. Garnish with celery leaves.

The Change-Up: Corn Bread Stuffing with Chorizo, Poblano and Cilantro

Looking for a change? Bringing a Latin flavor to the Thanksgiving table is always a viable option to spice up your bland and overused holiday recipes. A couple of my non-tradtional stuffing lovinf freiends suggest adding chorizo to sweet cornbread and combine it with herbal cilantro and complex poblano peppers to bring new flavors to a classic dish.

  • 8-ounces Chorizo
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 12 Cups diced day old corn bread
  • 2 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
  • ½- 3/4 Cups cilantro, chopped
  • ½ Cup pepitas
  • ½ Cup Chicken stock (more or less to taste)

Cook the chorizo and onion in a large skillet until meat is cooked through and onions are softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Drain well. Gently combine the chorizo mixture, cornbread, pepper, cilantro and pepitas in a large mixing bowl. Moisten with the stock and turn into a buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake the stuffing at 375 for 45 minutes (uncover for the last 20 minutes) until hot. Garnish with additional pepitas and cilantro sprigs.

The Classic: Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Sage and Onion

These perennially popular ingredients are highlighted the most  in popular stuffing recipes. If you want to keep things traditional at the table this is the stuffing for you.

  • 1 Pound sage breakfast sausage
  • 1 Large onion, diced
  • 4 Celery stalks 
  • 4 ounces diced cremi mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 12 Cups Sourdough bread cubed and dried
  • ½ Cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ Cup diced oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 Cup chicken broth

Cook the breakfast sausage in a large skillet with the onions, celery and mushrooms until the meat is cooked through and vegetables are soft. Add the sage, fennel, and poultry seasoning and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the sausage mixture, bread, cheese, tomatoes, eggs and chicken broth in a large bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and transfer to a buttered baking dish. Cover and bake the stuffing for 30 minutes at 375. Uncover and continue baking for 40 minutes. Garnish the stuffing with sage leaves and crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The Whimsical: Brioche Stuffing with Bacon and Eggs

I have a friend who suggests adding hard boiled eggs to stuffing and many people believe bacon should be used as a “spice” in every Thanksgiving recipe possible. That got me to thinking that a bacon and egg stuffing could bring a delicious whimsy to the holiday table!

  • ½ Pound bacon
  • 1 Medium red onion, minced
  • 1 Green pepper, diced small
  • 1 Loaf Brioche, diced into I” pieces and oven dried
  • 3 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 1 Bunch of scallions sliced
  • ¼ Cup of Chicken stock

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet until crisp and cooked through; drain on paper towels and crumble. Cook the red onion and green pepper in the bacon drippings until soft. Season with salt and pepper and drain well. Combine the bacon, vegetables, brioche, eggs and scallion in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Season well with salt and pepper. Turn the mixture into a buttered casserole and drizzle lightly with the chicken stock. Bake uncovered until hot; about 30 minutes.

*Any of these stuffings (except the delicate bacon and egg offering) can be cooked in the bird. Just be sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees to ensure safety.

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