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Celebrity chefs offer new takes on Thanksgiving stuffing

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    Chef Edward Lee's Cornbread Oyster Stuffing (John Nation)

  • Portuguese_Sausage_Stuffing.jpg

    Sam Choy’s Portuguese Sausage Stuffing (Sam Choy)

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    Chef Paul Fehribach's Onion Sage Stuffing (Chef Paul Fehribach)

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    Chefs Edward Lee, Paul Fehribach and Sam Choy. (610 Magnolia/Grant Kessler/Sam Choy)

Tired of the same old turkey stuffing recipe you always make every year for Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t stress. We’ve got you covered. Celebrity chefs from Chicago, Louisville and Hawaii share their favorite stuffing recipes (complete with ingredients and step by step instructions) for the holidays.

Cornbread Oyster Stuffing
Chef Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville,KY

You may know Edward Lee from his stint on Bravo’s "Top Chef: Texas," but this acclaimed chef has many accolades under his belt, including his fourth nomination this past February as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. His stuffing recipe, he says, has evolved from the boring Stove-Top from his youth.

Explain what the dish is and why you like it?
It's kind of a New England meets the South stuffing recipe. The sweetness from the cornbread and the umami from the baked oysters are a real perfect pairing for me.

What makes it different from traditional turkey stuffing?
Well first, you don't stuff it in the turkey. That makes it too soggy. The chestnuts add a surprising but welcome nuttiness to it. I like this dressing even by itself on a cold winter night. Who needs turkey when you got dressing this good.

Was it a dish you grew up on as a child or did you create it yourself?
No, our Thanksgiving growing up was always this hybrid of bland turkey, Korean food and Stove-Top stuffing out of a box. Good effort but hardly what I remember as an inspiring meal. But now, when I do Thanksgiving dinner for my family, I can do whatever I want - I don't have to repeat my mother's recipes. So this is one of the recipes that came out of that experimentation.

How did you discover it… by experimenting?
I love oysters, in any season. Oysters and sage are so nice together. I first made this with stale sourdough bread but here in KY, there's cornbread everywhere. I tried it with some leftover cornbread that I had in my freezer and it was brilliant. My wife demands that I make it every Thanksgiving. It's nice to start new traditions.

I hear you don’t even like to eat turkey on Thanksgiving? 
I've never, never had a really delicious Thanksgiving turkey. It's just bland to me. Turkey for me is just an excuse to eat all the yummy sides. I usually put one slice of it on my plate, and then fill up on sides. That one slice will sit on my plate all evening because in theory, so long as there is turkey on your plate, you can still go back for more sides.

See the recipe for Cornbread Oyster Stuffing here.

Onion Sage Stuffing
Chef Paul Fehribach, executive chef and co-owner of Big Jones.

Paul Fehribach is an industry vet and a supporter of the slow food movement. He has a passion for coastal Southern cuisine and for unwrapping the way African influences has changed the history of American cooking. What better than to offer up a truly American stuffing recipe.

Explain why you like it? 
For me, Thanksgiving is about comforting flavors expressed beautifully through simple preparations of delicious ingredients. This recipe is easy to make, but more importantly it’s satisfying for all its roasty toasty flavors plus the savory-ness provided by the onions, celery, and chicken stock. Depending on what you want to do with it, you can add more or less chicken stock – I tend to make the stuffing on the dry side, all the better to soak up more gravy.

What makes it different from traditional turkey stuffing? 
This is fairly traditional, but it skips on the eggs, making it a safer option if you like to actually bake the stuffing into the bird. Eliminating the eggs also lightens the texture and keeps the flavor simpler.

Was it a dish you grew up on as a child or did you create it yourself? 
I created it myself because I loved the concept behind most of the instant stuffing mixes – heavily seasoned, just bread no eggs, but all of those come off tasting too processed.

Did you create it by experimenting? 
It involved a lot of experimenting, but it’s so simple it was more about getting it to my exact taste than making something that would just work. It’s a simple recipe so folks can take from it what they want and adapt it to their tastes very easily themselves. That said, this is the recipe we serve for Thanksgiving dinner at Big Jones and people just love it.

You prefer to eat something other than turkey for Thanksgiving -- why is that? 
Well I’d much rather have duck or, if we’re going for whiter meat, capon (castrated rooster). Even the best, most competently prepared turkeys have breast meat more appropriate for making macramé than a celebratory meal. I do enjoy the thighs though, they are tasty. I just think most other birds have far better meat throughout.

See the recipe for Onion Sage Stuffing here 

Sam Choy’s Portuguese Sausage Stuffing
Chef Sam Choy, Sam Choy's Kai Lanai, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 

Hawaiian chef Sam Choy’s has written 16 cookbooks, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Pacific Region, had his own cooking show --not to mention his multiple appearances on Food Network Challenges, like "Chopped Grill Masters." But for him it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without adding some island flavor to the table. 

Explain the dish and why you like it? 
The dish is a unique take on the traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing, highlighting Island-inspired ingredients that truly speak to my background as a Chef – Hawaii is composed of many different cultures, all with their own approaches to cooking and so in turn, the food on the Islands is a unique blend of flavors. This recipe is great because it still has that home-cooked flavor, but coupled a soulfully spicy punch!

What makes it different from traditional turkey stuffing? 
Well for one, there is no turkey! I’ve also substituted the use of traditional white bread for Portuguese Sweet Bread that serves to deepen the flavors and complement the spice level of the dish. It’s great to serve at Thanksgiving, but can also be utilized year-round!

Was it a dish you grew up on as a child or did you create it yourself? 
No, this was something that I created. I wanted to play on the traditional stuffing and bring it into the realm of “Hawaiian Heritage” cuisine, utilizing more interesting herbs such as Cilantro and of course incorporate Portuguese Sausage really giving the dish a kick!

What was your inspiration for this recipe? 
This was something that my travels inspired and was perfected by experimenting with different herbs, vegetables, and seasonings – I think it’s close to perfect now, but I am always looking for ways to change it up.

Do you make it for your own family every year during the holidays? 
We don’t make it every year – I like to try new things while mixing in the traditional – but it is something they love!

See the recipe for Sam Choy’s Portuguese Sausage Stuffing here