Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? I can’t believe it. I mean, I still feel like it is October, to be honest. Yeah, I’m still stuck on that month flying by as fast as it did.
Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays. There are so many amazing family and food traditions celebrated during this time of year, and that may just be one of my absolute favorite things there is about food and culture, and why I have gotten so excited about food again.
One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey stuffing. Why? Because turkey stuffing tells a story: It reveals a lot about who you are and where you're from. If you call it "stuffing," for example, you probably grew up north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Southerners tend to serve "dressing." Hence why I call it stuffing. When I lived in Mississippi, they all had their cornbread dressings. I thought dressing was what you put on salad. It was confusing. Imagine my surprise when the cornbread wasn't being doused with some special sauce, but that it WAS the "sauce."The thing about stuffing is that you probably haven't tasted a lot of different kinds in your life. It's just not an experimenting kind of dish. The family recipe is untouchable, celebrated and made the same way year after year. Even the most adventuresome eaters want the stuffing that their grandmothers made, no matter how it tastes. Stuffing is also not a food that’s really made all year long for dinners and the like.
The most common American stuffing is made with bread. White supermarket sandwich bread is probably the most customary choice.
In the South, any bread other than cornbread would be sacrilege — except in Louisiana and Texas, both large rice-producing states, where rice dressings may be found on the Thanksgiving table. Now, as I read this, I had a hard time grasping what in the world rice dressing was. I guess it’s popular in Cajun recipes and here in Texas, and it is a nice gluten-free option to replace the bread with. Wild rice stuffing often features dried cherries or cranberries, pecans or almonds.
In many homes, packaged herbed bread stuffing mix is traditional, and usually ensures that the stuffing will not be soggy. Yum, Stove Top!
|Cranberry & Almond Wild Rice Stuffing|
Other stuffing/dressing/filling ingredients also reflect regional and personal differences. Families of Italian heritage may stuff with sausage. Along the Atlantic coast, oysters are popular. My mom was telling me about oyster stuffing yesterday, and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this either. I want to try this crazy concoction. I LOVE OYSTERS.
I also read something that said that here in Texas, some turkeys are stuffed with tamales. Are you KIDDING me? That sounds really atrocious. Puke.
|OK, it doesn't look THAT bad. |
Francis Butler's Texas Tamale-Stuffed Turkey
The biggest controversy in stuffing, (yes there is a controversial side to stuffing), is inside or outside the bird. Stuffed into the turkey cavity, the mixture is saturated with delicious turkey fat and drippings. But is it safe? After years of stuffing our turkeys, health concerns were raised. Turkeys can be stuffed if cooks follow food safety practices.
But you can have it both ways. All the stuffing will not fit into the turkey, so there will be plenty left to put in a buttered casserole and bake in the oven.
What is YOUR favorite kind of stuffing/dressing/filling? What side of the coin do you fall on: IN or OUT of the bird?
This month, I was motivated to participate in #NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where the challenge is presented to bloggers to write a post for each and every day during the month of November. Today is Day 20.