I’m Stuffed

Is it stuffing or is it dressing? Cook it inside or outside the bird? Moist or dry? These controversies had us considering avoiding stuffing altogether. We’re a butcher’s newsletter — not Vice Magazine. But we are undaunted! So here it is; some notes about stuffing (or dressing, if you’re a Victorian, or from the Southern U.S., well, only certain parts of the Southern U.S., actually).

Sanagan’s house-made stuffing featuring sourdough bread, onion, butter, turkey stock, carrot and herbs is a classic addition to any Thanksgiving feast. Or make your own. They’re very few dishes that allow for a more intuitive, loosely-based-on-a-recipe approach to cooking. Just start with bread and go from there. If you want to add your own special touches to bread stuffing, ours or yours, consider the following additions:

• That package of weird bits that comes wrapped up inside your turkey? That’s the gizzard, heart AND WHAT ELSE?. Chop those up and add them in to sauté. More turkey flavour! Just don’t use the neck. (It’s the thing that looks like a neck.)

• More stock, preferably turkey but chicken will do. For those of you in the Moist Stuffing Camp. Make a mini-batch of turkey stock with that raw neck.

• Pork sausage. Because people like meat in their meat. Be sure to order some of our sage and thyme seasoned loose sausage meat when you order your turkey. When adding sausage consider some apple to lend a touch of acidic balance.

• Speaking of acidity — throw some orange juice in there.

• You know what you don’t see in any stuffing recipe? Wine! What’s up with that? I think a splash of something bright and tangy like a Muscadet Serve et Maine, a Gruner Veltliner or a dry Sauvignon Blanc would jazz things up.

• Chestnuts. We’re getting into some real olde-timey stuff here. The chestnuts should be boiled or roasted, shelled and chopped. Avoid chestnuts in sweet syrup — unless you like sweet stuffing. Now THAT’S controversial.

• Oysters. Extra olde-timey. Add the oyster liquor too to really up the oysterishness.

• Bacon. Because.

• Mushrooms: Fresh, wild or dry. Adjust quantities accordingly.

• Dried fruits like chopped cranberries or raisins. Tastes good. Looks good.

All of the above are suggested with bread stuffing in mind but don’t limit yourself to crumbs, especially for those saying no thanks to gluten. Corn bread, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes; rice, wild rice, bulgur and couscous can all be used to fill the bird.

Now that we have freed ourselves of any stuffiness regarding stuffing, let’s consider the suggestions of our Kensington neighbours and Sanagan’s co-workers for their multicultural stuffing inspirations.

Lester, the butcher from the Philippines, where, “about 50% of the people do Thanksgiving” says that his mother would add lemongrass to the stuffing.

Our friends at Caribbean Corner on Baldwin Street cite the Jamaican tradition of cramming the bird full of whole onions combined with clove, whole peppercorns and scallions. Aromatic!

Meat Hawker Angelica suggests a dim sum-style sticky rice stuffing hack with glutinous rice, sweet Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and shitake mushrooms.

So, as we can see, the inside of your turkey is an empty canvas awaiting the unlimited creativity of your stuffing expressions.

And now, a Thanksgiving classic:

A turkey walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Wattle ya have?”

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