Stuffing has always been the most important part of my family's Thanksgiving and Christmas Meals. And yes, I call it stuffing, NOT dressing, which I think is the Southern term for it and I have never gotten on board with that. Anyway, my dad is very picky about how moist the stuffing is---if it's too dry, it pretty much ruins his holiday dinner. So the pressure is always on. The thing is though, for long time I always used the Pepperidge Farm stuffing and just embellished it with other ingredients (usually apples, bacon, onions, celery, and raisins). But after college, when I started to become more of a foodie, I started realizing that there was so much more to stuffing than what I had traditionally been exposed to, and so I started to experiment with different ingredients. I started doing it from scratch, with different breads (i.e., cornbread, sourdough, challah, even saltines!) and found that, although it's a lot more work, I really liked the homemade, baked variety of stuffing better than just throwing a bag of dried, seasoned bread in a pot and adding random ingredients. I do have a few rules about stuffing that I never stray from:
1) I never put stuffing IN my turkey. It's always a side dish. No exceptions.
2) There must always be onion and celery.
3) No seafood of any kind will ever go in my stuffing. Oysters? NO!
4) Also, no nuts of any kind. Stuffing should never be crunchy.
5) Sage is a necessary ingredient in any stuffing recipe I make.
Other than that, i'm open to any and all unique stuffing ideas. I have to say though, my favorite variation so far has been a take on this recipe from Ina Garten. I love the combo of the salty sausage with a sweet ingredient like apples. I do like cornbread-based stuffing, but something about it doesn't seem as traditional for me. But I guess that all depends on what your family considers traditional, right? I just love hearing about the food traditions of different families, and what they absolutely HAVE to have on the table for Christmas dinner.
So what about you? What's your favorite stuffing recipe? Anything particular about stuffing you loathe or love?