Chow Town

November 22, 2013

Stuffing? Dressing? Thanksgiving debate really should be cornbread or bread

There is something about Thanksgiving — no matter if you get together with a large family and friends, or if it is a small affair, there tends to be a warmth in the air.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

There is something about Thanksgiving — no matter if you get together with a large family and friends, or if it is a small affair, there tends to be a warmth in the air.

This is the first time of the fall season that the hearth of a home is hustling and bustling. The savory smells of a turkey roasting all day while sounds of a knife sliding across a cutting board and all burners a go makes the house happy and alive.

All the senses are dancing on Thanksgiving and thus forever etching memories in our brain.

There are also memories of table conversations, small debates and great laughter which makes the belly hurt. One of these tiny questions worth pondering is whether it’s stuffing or dressing?

Using cognitive thinking skills, one would assume stuffing cooks inside of the turkey and dressing cooks outside of the turkey. In all actuality, they refer to the same thing, a “farce.”

Somewhere in Victorian England, farce became stuffing and that wasn’t a pretty enough word, so then it was dubbed dressing. Feel free to start the debate at your Thanksgiving table, knowing full well, stuffing and dressing are the same thing.

Now that is clear, does your family prefer cornbread stuffing or regular stuffing? I had no idea cornbread stuffing existed until I moved to Texas for a few years. We were brought up on bread dressing with lots of celery, onion and garlic. Not to mention the pallets of butter dotting the top. It had texture of bread pudding, which I happen to find delightful. It was so tasty, especially the crispy edges of caramelized goodness.

To my surprise there is a whole other culture of stuffing and it starts with cornbread. As far as stuffing small game such as quail or pheasant, I can definitely see the advantages of having the smaller crumbs of cornbread around.

As a side dish, I am not necessarily a fan, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take a big scoop if it was offered. The texture of the cornbread stuffing seems to be a bit more fine which makes the sautéed veggies stand out. It does seem that the cornbread absorbs a bit more flavor of the accoutrement ingredients, like apples, cranberries or bacon.

Both are good, now it’s just up to your preference — corn or bread. Remember to smile and laugh no matter which shows up on the table this year.

How much do you need? About two quarts for a 10 to 12 pound turkey, which will serve about 10 people.

Apricot Sage Stuffing Makes 8 to 10 servings 1 pound of bread, cubed 1 pound bacon or pancetta 1each large onion, chopped 1 cup celery chopped 1-1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped 1tablespoon fresh sage chopped 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon pepper Pan spray 1/2 cup white wine 2-3/4 cups turkey or chicken stock 2 tablespons butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the bread on a sheet pan and toast until dry, about 10 minutes.

Cook the bacon in a medium high sauté pan until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the onion and celery, turn down the heat and allow to sweat for 3 minutes. In a large bowl mix together the sautéed ingredients, apricots, parsley, thyme, sage, salt, pepper and bread.

Place the mixture in a baking dish that has been sprayed with pan spray. Mix together the white wine, stock and melted butter. Pour liquid over the stuffing mixture in the baking dish.

Cover and bake for 30 to 45 minutes Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the top starts to brown.

Cornbread Stuffing Makes 10 to 12 servings

For the cornbread:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 2 tablespoons baking powder 1teaspoons salt 1 1/2 cup cornmeal 3 eggs 1/3 cup sorghum 3/4 cup cream 3/4 cup milk 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cup butter softened

For the cornbread stuffing:

1/2 pound bacon small dice 1 cup celery small dice 1-1/2 cup onion small dice 2 eggs 1-1/2 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup white wine 1 tablespoon thyme freshly chopped 2 teaspoons sage freshly chopped 1-1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon pepper 2 cup cheese grated, cheddar or blue cheese 1 cup butter

To prepare the cornbread, heat oven to 425 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together. On medium speed beat the eggs, sorghum, cream, milk and lemon juice and butter until mixed. Add the dry ingredients. On low, mix together. Pour into a 9-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch greased baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

To prepare the stuffing: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion, sweat until translucent.

Crumble the cornbread into small pieces. Add the sautéed vegetables and bacon, and the rest of the ingredients.

Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Fill the pan with the stuffing and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Renee Kelly is the owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Johnson County. Her passion lies in changing the food system, one plate at a time. Her inspiration is Mother nature and the many growers in the Kansas City area.

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