Dressing stuffing? That is the question

by Don Bingham

One of the most discussed and controversial issues with the impending holidays has always been the dressing or stuffing for the crown jewel (turkey) for the Thanksgiving table! Everyone seems to have his/her own favorites, often dictated by tradition, by handed-down recipes and by geographical location.

It’s always been said that the North will put sugar in the dressing, whether the dish is stuffed or passed, whether it has fruit and chestnuts, breads added or just a cornmeal base. It can be such a dilemma to decide unless you are a die-hard and set in your opinion that your way is best. Many of us dressing people are!

The term “stuffing” first appeared in 1538. It seems the term did not appeal to the Victorian upper crust who began referring to the dish as dressing; both terms are used interchangeablynowadays. Oyster stuffing, cornbread dressing, pecan rice and sausage dressing are among the more popular side dishes for the regal bird.

My wife, Nancy, always cooks the dressing. Her recipe has been handed down for generations with a little tweaking here and there. The dressing process usually takes 12 hours of shopping, cutting, dicing, brazing and blanching! After tons of pots and pans, eating actually takes about 20 minutes, then twice that much time in a food coma and followed by four hours of cleanup!

Both sides of our families have always cooked dressing and prepared enough to freeze in the raw state to pull out a few weeks later for that culinary treat! My mom always did a Southern traditional style dressing with chopped hard-boiled eggs rather than raw eggs with the dressing mixture. My wife’s mom always did at least two dressings — sometimes three — always regular dressing and oyster dressing and, sometimes, sausage dressing.

Listed below are some of our favorite dressing recipes for the holidays!


6 cups cornbread, crumbled
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sage
Coarse ground pepper to taste
1 stick butter
4 cups rich chicken or turkey broth
4 eggs beaten

Sauté onions and celery in 1 stick of butter for 2 minutes. Mix all dry ingredients (not eggs). At this point, check for proper seasoning and adjust as needed. Add eggs, mix well. Bake in oiled, heavy iron skillet for 30-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Serves 12.


1 1/2 pounds sausage
1 garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons brandy
6 cups cornbread
2 cups bread crumbs
4 eggs
3-4 cups rich chicken broth

Cook and crumble sausage and add garlic, onions and celery to chicken broth. Add cream and butter and heat. Crumble bread and cornbread, add seasonings, sausage and chicken broth. Add brandy and eggs. Bake at 450 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Serves 12.


2 cups brown rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 stick butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup onions

Bring chicken broth, butter and lemon juice to boil and add other ingredients. Cook over medium heat for one hour, or until rice is tender. Serves 8-10.


2/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 cups day-old bread cubes
2 1/2 cups chopped, unpeeled apples
1 1/2 cups chopped, dried apricots
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
12-14 pound turkey

Preheat oven to 350.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onion in hot butter until tender, stirring occasionally. Add bread cubes, apples, apricots, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Remove from heat. Fill neck and body cavities of turkey with fruit-stuffing mixture. Fasten neck skin to back with skewers. Tie legs together or tuck in band of skin at tail, if present. Place turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in large roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer deep into inside thigh muscle. Roast, uncovered, for 1 hour. Reduce temperature to 325. Continue roasting 2-3 hours longer or until meat thermometer reaches 180. During roasting, spoon off accumulated fat at 30-minute intervals. Transfer turkey to platter; remove skewer or string from legs, if used. Let turkey stand 20 minutes for easier carving. Garnish platter with celery leaves and with celery cut to resemble roses, if desired.


1 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 package yeast
1 cup warm water
2 eggs
6 cups flour
Melted butter and sesame seeds

Pour boiling water over butter, sugar and salt. Dissolve yeast into warm water. Beat eggs into yeast. Add this to cooled butter mixture. Add flour and mix well. Set over night, covered in refrigerator. Remove dough 2 hours before baking time. Gently knead dough and pinch off rolls and put them in a greased 9-by-13 pan. Cover and place in a warm place to rise for approximately 90 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.


Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and planned elaborate events. Today, he is the administrator for the Governor’s Mansion.


Don Bingham
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