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FEATURE/The Insider's Guide to the Best Stuffing Recipes Ever Published; Just in Time for Thanksgiving, Experts Have Cooked up One Delicious Best-Seller List.

Food/Feature Editors

FEATURE...

--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 30, 2002

By Western Research Kitchens News Service:

What are the best cookbook stuffing recipes of all time? As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, this question may become much more vital than whether you serve cranberry sauce with your turkey or how you will fit such a large group around your dining room table.

We've come up with the ultimate insider's list for you of the best cookbook stuffing recipes ever published. Plus -- something to really give thanks for -- we've made them easy, yet elegant; simple, yet spectacular, since all rely on convenient packaged mixes as a foundation. Any indulgent ingredient has been tamed to be more home-cook friendly; any rough step has been smoothed.

Our expert team is the reason:

Rick Rodgers

Rodgers, who started as a caterer of American regional cuisine, and has authored more than 20 cookbooks, is the undisputed king of Thanksgiving cooking since writing the classic bestsellers "Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America's Favorite Holiday With America's Thanksgiving Expert" and "50 Best Stuffings & Dressings."

Rodgers travels the country each fall as the sage of stuffing and all else related to Thanksgiving and, by the time the big day has rolled around, often has personally prepared 30 or 40 full-blown Thanksgiving feasts.

"Sometimes, I come home the day before Thanksgiving at 7 p.m. after teaching, say, 20 Thanksgiving cooking classes in the few days prior and I'm pooped," Rodgers said. "Just like everyone else, I'm looking for the easiest possible recipe that still knocks everyone's socks off for my own family's Thanksgiving day meal -- as you can imagine, due to the kind of work I do, they expect magic from me every year -- and that's why my Cornbread Stuffing With Ham, Peaches and Peanuts (from his`"Stuffings' book) is one of my all-time favorites. It uses packaged cornbread stuffing mix, but yet draws more raves than almost any other stuffing I make and proves you can be just as creative with a mix as your base as you can by having to bake your own cornbread."

Marcie Rothman

Rothman is a cookbook author, TV cooking show host and food consultant who, for more than 20 years, has traveled the country appearing on dozens of television and radio shows each Thanksgiving season as the cooking teacher for Mrs. Cubbison's stuffing mixes, one of the nation's leading Thanksgiving products. Sophie Cubbison, the late home economist and honored cook who founded the company with her husband almost 90 years ago, created the mix recipes.

An all-time favorite is a delectable Brazil Nut-Mushroom Stuffing from the classic "The New York Times Cook Book" edited by legendary food journalist Craig Claiborne. "That just happens to begin with prepared stuffing mix, but its outstanding flavor makes it one of the most impressive I've ever come across," notes Rothman of the recipe in the book first published in 1961 that has sold more than 3 million copies.

Lisa Messinger

Messinger, a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists, 12-year daily newspaper food editor and the author of four food books, has written the "Cooks' Books" review column for eight years for Copley News Service, which syndicates it to 750 newspapers weekly, as well as helming the companion web site "Lisa Messinger Online: Your Cookbook Companion" at http://www.lisamessinger.com.

"This perch or niche in the cookbook world has really given me a unique perspective regarding lots of categories of recipes," said Messinger. "My research and travels provide broad ground from which to mine wonderful recipes. There's a fantastic Pine Nut-Walnut Stuffing with Sausage recipe, for instance, from famed London Dorchester Hotel executive chef Willi Elsener based on those of the holiday meals of his childhood in Switzerland that I never would have known about unless I was interviewing him in the Dorchester kitchens and found out about his little-known cookbook.

"On the other hand, I was just as impressed with an incredibly simple recipe for Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread Stuffing from `Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections From Her Savannah Table' by Sema Wilkes, a still-going-strong 90-year-old whose boardinghouse restaurant draws crowds that wind around the block. Customer after customer tells Wilkes that they won't eat any other stuffing after tasting hers because, among other touches, she uses so much stock (more than 4 cups, compared to the usual 1-1/2 cups or less) that no gravy is needed with the meal."

Regarding the Recipes

A turkey can hold about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound and 3/4 to 1 cup of stuffing is the amount you should allow per serving when planning your menu. Follow the accompanying recipes and stuff your turkey as you usually do, if you would like (except for the Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread Stuffing, which due to its gravy effect, is meant to be served on the side, as is the Savory Cranberry Loaf), or bake them in a separate dish as a casserole (although the Pine Nut-Walnut With Sausage Stuffing is meant only to be stuffed in a bird because of its very low liquid content). If baking in a separate dish, use about 1/2 cup more liquid than the recipe calls for (to make up for the turkey juices that won't be basting the stuffing). Place a lid or aluminum foil on the casserole and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, or until it registers 165 F on a meat thermometer. For crustier stuffing, bake without the lid or foil during the last 10 minutes.

OLD-FASHIONED SOUTHERN CORNBREAD STUFFING
2 (6-ounce) bags packaged cornbread stuffing mix
4-1/2 cups hot chicken, pork or turkey stock
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup grated celery
1/2 cup grated onion
1/2 cup grated bell pepper
Salt, optional
Pepper, optional


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Place cornbread stuffing mix in a large bowl; add stock. Cover and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add eggs, celery, onion and bell pepper. Bake in well-greased pan for 30 to 40 minutes. Since the stock and stuffing mix are already well seasoned, add salt and pepper only if desired.

Yields 8 cups.

(From "Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections From Her Savannah Table" by Sema Wilkes, Ten Speed Press).

CORNBREAD STUFFING WITH HAM, PEACHES AND PEANUTS
1-1/2 cups dried peaches (1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup bourbon or apple juice
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 pound smoked or boiled ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 (6-ounce) bags packaged cornbread stuffing mix (see note)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup coarsely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 to 1-1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth, as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Place peaches and bourbon or apple juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand while preparing the rest of the stuffing.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add ham and scallions and cook until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the peaches, bourbon and poultry seasoning.

Scrape ham mixture into a large bowl. Add cornbread stuffing mix, peaches with their bourbon or apple juice, eggs and peanuts. Blend well. Gradually stir in about 1 cup broth, until the stuffing is evenly moistened, but not soggy. Season with the salt and pepper.

Yields about 8 cups.

Note: Remove 1 cup of the cornbread stuffing mix and reserve for another recipe or discard.

(From "50 Best Stuffings & Dressings" by Rick Rodgers, Broadway).

CHESTNUT STUFFING
2 cups braised chestnuts (see note 1)
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound pork sausage
1 teaspoon thyme, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 (6-ounce) bag seasoned stuffing mix (see note 2)


Cut the chestnuts into quarters. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion and cook, stirring often, over medium heat until soft. Scrape into a bowl and mix with the chestnuts.

Cook the sausage in the skillet, crumbling it into tiny bits until it is brown. Add the sausage, with some of its fat, to the chestnut mixture with the thyme, pepper, parsley and stuffing mix.

Yields 5 cups.

Note 1: You can use canned unsweetened chestnuts, or, when looking for fresh in the shell, feel them and be sure that the nut seems firm and has not drawn away from the shell. To shell, cut slits or crisscross gashes in the flat sides of the chestnuts and drop them into boiling water for a minute or two. While the chestnuts are still warm, carefully remove the shells and inner skins, using a sharp knife. If any of the skins are especially difficult to peel, reboil the chestnuts for a few seconds.

Note 2: Remove 1/2 cup of the stuffing mix and reserve for another recipe or discard.

(From "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of America's Great Classic" by Marion Cunningham, Knopf).

PINE NUT-WALNUT STUFFING WITH SAUSAGE
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
9 ounces pork sausage, crumbled
2 teaspoons chopped sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1/4 (6-ounce bag) packaged seasoned stuffing mix (3/4 cup)
1-1/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cups pine nuts, coarsely chopped


Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan, add the onion and sweat until translucent, but not colored. Remove onion from pan. Place sausage, sage, parsley and stuffing mix in the pan; cook sausage, crumbling it into tiny bits until it is brown. Add walnuts, pine nuts and onions; turn off heat and allow to cool.

Yields 4-1/2 to 5 cups.

(From "Menus & Music" by Willi Elsener, Macmillan).

BRAZIL NUT-MUSHROOM STUFFING
1/2 cup butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup Brazil nuts
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (6 oz) bag packaged seasoned stuffing mix, plus 1 additional cup
 from a second 6 oz bag
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Melt butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms, celery, Brazil nuts and onion. Sprinkle with salt and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stuffing mix and parsley and toss to combine.

Yields 4 1/2 to 5 cups.

(From "The New York Times Cook Book" edited by Craig Claiborne, Harper Collins).

EDITOR NOTE: For a wide variety of stuffing recipes, visit www.thanksgivingtips.com. The site also offers cooking tips and helpful hints for preparing turkey.

If you are interested in receiving a color photo of a roast turkey and stuffing casserole, please feel free to e-mail LeeassociatesPR@aol.com with your request, or phone 323/938-3300, and ask for Rachelle.
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