Turkey might not be everyone's cup of tea (although if you're cooking it right, it should be tender, juicy and flavorful enough to win over skeptics), but there's one signature dish that's almost always in high demand, even if the rest of the spread is cold, dry and cardboardy, heaven forbid.
Stuffing -- or dressing, depending on your preferred term and how you cook it -- seems to only surface during Thanksgiving, but even a mediocre version of it is so darn good that it's hard to imagine why we don't eat the delicious bread-based dish all year long.
The great thing is that stuffing is incredibly easy to make, even if you forego the dried, boxed bread chunks, so it's a perfect opportunity to knock one side out of the park and impress your guests. Whether you want to keep it simple or get a little wacky and unconventional, there's a stuffing recipe for everyone here. Enjoy!
Not sure what kind of stuffing to make? You can't go wrong with the classic kind. Of course, if you have some relatives with wildly boring palates who refuse to eat anything even slightly out of the norm, you can always make a small dish of this stuff and another of something a little more adventurous. Since you'll likely be using similar ingredients, it shouldn't be too much more work.
If you want a semi-traditional stuffing that branches out from the usual without getting too wild and crazy, this sweet-savory version is the one for you. You get an incredibly moist, flavorful depth and nice texture from the sausage -- perfectly emphasized by breakfasty sage, of course -- while the chopped apples bring an ever-so-subtle hint of sweetness and brightness to perk things up.
Slightly smoky bacon is a natural match for deep, chewy pretzel bread, malty beer and strong, bright Dijon mustard to cut through the richness of it all. For the beer, you'll probably want to stick with something light and mild, like a lager, pilsner or even a gentle English ale -- the cheaper the better, in this case -- although things could also get pretty interesting with a dry, malty, low ABV stout like Guinness for a richer, bolder flavor.
Love cornbread? This dish, complete with pears, a dash of white wine and tons of herbs to balance out the dense cornbread and crumbly sausage, can do double-duty if you're planning to serve cornbread to round out your meal anyway. If you want to practice and tweak your recipe a few days before the big meal, your reject batches won't go to waste if you reuse them as stuffing later in the week.
How is this possible, you ask? It sounds out there, but with bright herbs and natural, full-fat ingredients like heavy cream, Italian sausage and cheesy white flour-free "bread," this hearty dressing won't have anyone missing carbs. Alternately, if you want to be a bit healthier and reduce your workload, you can make this cauliflower version instead.