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Stuffing plays a supporting role in Thanksgiving meals

Stuffing plays a supporting role in Thanksgiving meals

It’s not surprising that National Stuffing Day falls on the fourth Thursday of November, because that’s also the day we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Many Americans’ celebratory meal includes stuffing—or dressing, as some refer to it. Whatever you call it, this delicious side dish is a perfect accompaniment to turkey, ham, roasts or almost any other main dish.

The mainstay of holiday stuffing or dressing is typically bread crumbs or crumbled cornbread. Other ingredients are as diverse as Virginia’s agricultural commodities. Some stuffings include crumbled sausage; others are full of apples or other fruits. Still other stuffings include aquatic ingredients like Virginia oysters.

Some Virginians stuff the side dish into their turkeys, while others prepare dressing separately. According to the Butterball kitchen, if you refer to the side dish as dressing, odds are you cook it separately from the bird and live in the South. Otherwise, you are likely a stuffing family and cook it inside the turkey.

If you want to try making your stuffing with Virginia oysters, here’s a recipe from the Oyster Company of Virginia.

Cornbread and Oyster Dressing

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion
4 green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups crumbled cornbread
3 cups soft bread crumbs
½ cup minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint shucked oysters, drained: reserve ½ cup liquid

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a rectangular baking dish.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions and celery in the butter until tender but not browned.

Combine the cornbread and bread crumbs in a large bowl; mix in sautéed onions, salt, pepper and parsley. Add beaten eggs, and toss more; gradually add the oyster liquid until moist but not soggy. Gently stir in the oysters.

Pat the mixture into the prepared baking dish (It should make a 1” layer in the pan). Dot with remaining butter, and bake about 45 minutes until golden brown and set in the center.

Or try a traditional stuffing recipe from Country Treasures from Virginia Farm Bureau Kitchens. This one recommends mincing the onion and celery in a blender or food processor.

Mom’s Great Stuffing

6 cups bread crumbs
½ cup minced onion
½ cup minced celery
2 eggs, beaten
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup chicken broth, hot

Leave bread out to dry, and then bake until golden brown—or you can buy unseasoned bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 350°, and grease a 9"x13" baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the crumbs with minced onion and celery. Add salt, pepper and sage to the beaten eggs, and fold egg mixture into the bread crumbs. Add the hot broth, and mix thoroughly. If the stuffing appears dry, add more broth. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.