Stuffing is a blank canvas. The white-walled room of Thanksgiving tradition just waiting to be filled up with pretty things and taken in interesting directions.
Infinite adaptability is nice, but too many options can lead to analysis paralysis. The holidays are approaching. The guests are coming. People will be expecting stuffing.
To get you sorted, our Test Kitchen came up with a couple can't-miss variations and we called a Southern transplant in Brooklyn for some down home dressing direction.
First up, a rich, crunchy, funky inspired combo: Pistachio, Guanciale and Duck Liver Stuffing. A cup of vermouth, a bunch of Pecorino Romano, all the stabilizing goodness of two pounds of duck liver--a lot of happy tastes that work really well together (see the recipe).
Or bring some alluring, red-tinted Saffron, Mussel and Nduja Stuffing to the holiday table this year (see the recipe). The mussels belly up against sourdough bread, white wine and the spicy, spreadable Calabrian pork sausage for an incredibly complex flavor combination.
For a more classical Southern twang, Arkansas native Robert Newton of Brooklyn's beloved Seersucker and Nightingale 9 restaurants shared his family's recipe for Cornbread Dressing with Sage and Black Pepper (see the recipe).
"This is the only dressing served by mom for the holidays," Newton says. "It has been on the table every Thanksgiving for my entire life."
The dish relies on a very simple (and very Southern) technique of adding neck meat, livers and gizzards for flavor and richness.
Newton says, "I love the idea of it not being inside the bird but still having all the benefits of the pan drippings and roasted turkey flavor."
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