Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dress Up Dinner with Special Stuffing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dress Up Dinner with Special Stuffing

Article excerpt

IN MANY HOMES, preparing turkey stuffing has been elevated to an art form. Holiday recipes are handed down for generations, with ingredients and proportions unchanged. Whether the stuffing is seasoned with onions, celery and sage, or dotted with sausage, whole fresh oysters or dried fruit, it's a Thanksgiving masterpiece.

Some cooks prefer to create a new opus each holiday rather than stick to traditional favorites. The sky is the limit when it comes to developing innovative stuffings. Mixtures can be based on rice, wild rice, couscous, cubed cooked potatoes, croutons or pasta or the tried-and-true bread or cornbread crumbs. Changing the main ingredient changes the flavor and texture of the whole mixture.

The best thing about stuffing is that you can be flexible with measurements and procedures. It's the perfect little-of-this-little-of-that kind of food.

The cooking methods can vary as greatly as the ingredients. While stuffings usually are stuffed inside a turkey, they don't have to be. Many people prefer the crisp, golden crust that stuffing develops when it's baked in a separate dish. Cooking the stuffing in a microwave oven saves time but it won't give the mixture a crisp crust. If the conventional oven is full of turkey, try "baking" the stuffing on a barbecue grill with the lid closed.

Stuffings are usually rich mixtures so they are high in calories. A stuffed stuffing will absorb juices and flavors during cooking, but it also will absorb fat. Stuffings cooked inside the bird will have more calories than stuffing cooked separately.

To trim calories from your favorite stuffing blend, replace some of the butter, margarine or oil with moist, low-fat ingredients such as chopped fruit or minced vegetables. Use less of fattening ingredients such as nuts, sausage or eggs, and add a little extra chicken or vegetable broth.

Here are suggestions for stuffings:

Wild rice and pecan: Cook your favorite wild and long-grain rice mix and add plenty of chopped pecans, onions, green onions and parsley. Toast the pecans first for extra nutty flavor. …

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