For me, the holidays are about the stuffing. Sure, there is turkey for Thanksgiving, and often turkey for Christmas (my family asks for it), but sometimes Christmas dinner might also bring duck, ham or roast beef.
Regardless, there must be stuffing.
I have a version that is so darn good I might as well call it “Self-Esteem Stuffing” because I can count on getting raves every time I serve it. This is the best stuffing I have ever made, in 25 years of making and enjoying stuffing. Everyone who eats it asks for the recipe.
How good is it? So good…
…your spouse will propose marriage again
…you will get a great new job
…people will defer to your opinion when it comes time to select the restaurant
…your children will suddenly obey you and get good grades and stop biting at preschool (OK, that part is made up)
…and you will win the lottery.
That’s how good this stuffing is.
Try it with your November or December bird or other roasted meat, and sit back and practice being gracious while you receive the compliments.
Speaking of compliments, this recipe just won the 2010 Malibu Times Magazine Holiday Recipe Contest! How great is that?! They had three professional chefs test the entries, so it is extra special to be chosen as the winner. Finalists’ recipes were judged on a scale of 1 to 10, on the clearness/preciseness of the ingredients and instructions, ease of preparation and the delicious factor. Owner/chef David Price of Terra Restaurant said my stuffing not only met the criteria, but it was unique, and gave it a 10 for creativity!
Hope you all enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Never made stuffing? It’s easy with this visual tutorial + the recipe
Here’s a fairly detailed visual tutorial, because everyone deserves to have first-time blue-ribbon success with their stuffing!
Dorothy’s Southwest Stuffing
This is wonderful as is, or with traditional gravy, if you like. To make it vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup currants
- Splash of sherry (dry rather than sweet sherry; optional)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and roughly chopped into strips
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 2 (6-ounce) bags seasoned cornbread stuffing mix (12 ounces total)
- 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
- 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
- 2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1/2‑1 cup toasted pecans, chopped roughly
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- A few shakes red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage (or a few leaves of fresh sage, minced)
- Low-salt, fat-free canned chicken broth (have 2 15-ounce cans on hand)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large, lidded baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
Put raisins and currants in a 2-cup glass or plastic measuring cup, cover with water by 1-1 1/2 inches, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to soak while you prepare the rest of the stuffing. (Add a splash of sherry to the water if you wish; this is optional).
In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté onion, celery and red pepper until it softens, about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently; you do not want it to brown. Add minced garlic toward end of sautéing time so garlic doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
Put dry stuffing mix in your largest mixing bowl. To this, add sautéed onion mixture, drained raisins and currants, drained corn, diced green chiles, apple chunks and roasted pecans. Using large wooden spoons or your hands (more fun!), toss gently to combine.
Sprinkle cumin powder, red pepper flakes, chile powder and ground sage over, and toss gently, again, to combine well. You want the spices to be distributed evenly throughout.
Heat 1 can chicken broth (you can do this in a measuring cup in the microwave) and add small amounts at a time to the stuffing, tossing with your wooden spoons between additions, until the stuffing is moistened but not wet. You will use at least 1 can of broth. I recommend you have 2 cans on hand, just in case your mixture still seems too dry, but you probably won’t use too much of the second can. One trick is to mix it up using 1 can of broth, and let it sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes, to let the moisture spread evenly. Then if it is still too dry, begin slowly adding a portion of the second can. Add additional broth with a light hand, because if mixture is too wet, it will turn into concrete stuffing.)
Spoon stuffing into a greased baking dish with a lid (or one that can be covered tightly with foil); don’t pack it in, just spoon it lightly. If it won’t all fit into one dish, portion it between 2 dishes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
Serves 8-12, depending on appetites and how much else you have on the table!
Ingredient note: Currants are like tiny, dark raisins, made from the seedless Zante grape. You can find them in the supermarket aisle with raisins.
Cook’s note: Do not try to “taste test” this stuffing after you have it all mixed together and before baking, because the herbs and spices might taste harsh. With some dishes, at the point before you bake it you can taste test it to make sure all the spices are right, but not with this one. It really takes baking to marry these spices, so if you taste it while it is still “raw” you will not get an accurate taste test.
Photo credit: The main photo and the picture of me offering the stuffing are by charming professional photographer Michelle Hood. The rest of the photographs are by me.