Surprising stuffing variations

By Sarah Reiss

In 2006, the now-defunct Bon Appetit magazine ran a recipe for a stuffing peppered with crawfish, bacon, and collard greens. The extraordinary combination seared itself into many a foodie’s subconscious. Rich crawfish, smoky bacon, and the bitter tinge of collards made for a flavor mash-up that was both unanticipated and unforgettable.

The truth is, it’s fairly hard to mess up stuffing. The bread base lends itself well to acidic fruits, rich nuts, and off-the-chart spice blends, and the dish’s ability to improve overnight cements its popularity.

Chef Dean Maupin at Orient Express Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia, leans toward savory surprises as well. “I love great Italian flavors,” he notes, suggesting a stuffing made from Tuscan panzanella ingredients of crusty bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. “Of course, oysters and bacon are a favorite combination of mine that work great in stuffing. And wild boar sausage is great when chopped up and added to a basic stuffing base, and even better when dried cherries or cranberries are added.”

Mix and match

Feeling daring? Experiment with the thrill of diced habañero or the challenge of incorporating something as unforeseen as escargot. These flavorful additions will have your guests clamoring for the recipe.

  • Anchovies are not just for pizza anymore. Mince and stir them throughout a savory stuffing for a hint of brine and silky oil.
  • Poblano peppers, when combined with diced onion, garlic, chorizo, sage, and thyme, wake up basic cornbread stuffing.
  • Puerto Rican mofongo makes for an excellent variation. Combine fried plantains with diced bacon, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and diced bread.
  • Pears, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and artisan bread. Need we say more? 

Keep it separated

Stuffing served in ramekins and muffin tins is a clever way to provide your guests with options. Make one batch of each type and host a taste-off. And never underestimate the value of portion control when midnight snacking calls. Those single-serving sizes provide a little insurance that, even though your recipes may change, your waistline can stay the same.

For more stuffing ideas from the Associa family, try the Carona Family Thanksgiving Stuffing or Sage, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing.

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