Friday, November 20, 2009

Do Not Panic, This is Only a Test: Bittman's Favorite Bread Stuffing

I've never made stuffing from scratch before, so when I said I'd do it for Thanksgiving dinner this year, I decided to get some practice in.

"This classic dressing is based on a wonderful recipe by James Beard," Bittman writes in the introduction to what is billed in the book simply as My Favorite Bread Stuffing. Fair enough. I'm not one to start second guessing Bittman, let alone James Beard himself. I went with the sausage variation, using turkey sausage.

Bittman's stuffing recipe is strange, though. First of all, the recipe calls for breadcrumbs instead of cubed bread. That was unexpected, but again, who am I to second guess James Beard? Nobody, that's who. I'd never had breadcrumb-based stuffing. Maybe it would be really good. This is just practice stuffing. Stick with the recipe.

So, you cook the sausage in its own fat (I added a bit of oil, as turkey sausage has a lot less fat to render than pork sausage) then add onion, minced garlic and ginger, and a teaspoon of cumin if you like (I skipped the cumin). Then you stir in the breadcrumbs and some chopped scallions. Then you bake it, either in the bird or in a baking dish. I opted for a baking dish, because that's how my family rolls, and I don't know if I'll be at Thanksgiving in time to get my stuffing in the actual bird. Now, every other stuffing recipe I've ever seen has you add stock or water to the breadcrumbs/cubes at this point. This one makes no mention of that.

I had a bad feeling about this one from the get-go. It was disappointing, but to be fair, it was stuffing with sausage in it--we had no trouble finishing it. Also, it turns out that shrimp and stuffing go well together, so there's that. I didn't get any pictures of the stuffing, but here's one of the shrimp we ate it with.
Simplest and Best Shrimp

What's your favorite stuffing recipe? Let me know in the comments, I think I have time for one more dry run before Thanksgiving hits.
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