Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Spice Up Your Stuffing

In Eat, November 2019 by Bobby McFarlandLeave a Comment

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Want to tinker with tradition and bring some creativity to your Thanksgiving meal? Start with the stuffing. We developed a base recipe and invited four of our favorite chefs to modify the flavor profile by adding three to five ingredients. Try out one or two or see what you can come up with yourself!

Base Stuffing Recipe

Recipe by Chef Bobby McFarland


1-2 loaves of high quality sandwich bread, diced 

3 cups unsalted chicken stock or bone broth

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish or muffin tray

½ cup white wine

4 celery stalks, finely diced

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large eggs

kosher salt and black pepper


Step 1: Preheat oven to 275° and butter a baking dish or muffin tray. Spread diced bread in a single layer on 2-3 baking sheets and bake until completely dry. Remove from oven to cool, increase oven to 350°.

Step 2: In a large sauté pan, melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery and a pinch of salt. Sweat for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it is mostly evaporated.

Step 3: Whisk together the eggs and chicken stock.

Step 4: In a large mixing bowl, fold together the bread, chicken stock-egg mixture and add onions and celery from step 2. Fill the baking dish or, if desired, stuff the turkey.

Step 5: Cover the baking dish with a buttered (or Pam-sprayed) piece of aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the top of the stuffing is golden brown.

Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Driftwood Chef Nunzio Scordo

4 lb. Wampler’s breakfast sausage 

3 diced carrots 

2 Tbsp. chopped thyme

¼ cup parsley

We would add these ingredients in step 2. They take a Thanksgiving staple and kick it up a notch! The sausage adds a heartiness to the dish and the stuffing can even be eaten alone as a meal instead of as an accompanying side.

Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Chef Bobby McFarland

2 lb. blend of local mushrooms

¼ cup chopped rosemary

1 cup red wine (in place of the ½ cup of white wine)

¾ cup crumbled gorgonzola

¾ cup craisins

Pull or cut mushrooms (we recommend sourcing from Fox Farm & Forage) into bite-size pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 500° until crispy on the edges.

In step 2, add rosemary with the garlic and replace the half cup of white wine with a full cup of red wine. Add the mushrooms, gorgonzola and craisins in step 4. 

Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Papa Shogun Chef Tom Cuomo

1 lb. hot Italian sausage (loose, no casing)

8-10 finely minced anchovy fillets

½ lb. diced fennel

½ cup milk 

Dried thyme, oregano and rosemary

I would add the Italian sausage and minced anchovy fillets to the vegetables in step 2. Before adding the butter and vegetables, I would brown the sausage, then add the butter and anchovies and cook until the anchovies dissolve—then add the vegetables.

To the vegetables themselves, I would add the diced fennel, roughly ½ lb. or an amount equal to the amount of vegetables. I would also add the milk to the chicken stock and egg mixture in step 3, as well as some basic dried Italian herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary).

Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo
Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

NOFO Chef Dan Gray

Smoked bacon, local if possible

NC oysters, shucked and cut into large pieces

Fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, dill and sage (dried herbs can be subbed)

We suggest sourcing your bacon from Nahunta at the Farmer’s Market and the oysters from Locals Seafood at Transfer Co. Food Hall. Sauté all three ingredients with onion and celery in step 2. NC oysters are in season this time of year and, with the smoked bacon and fresh herbs, make for a wonderfully rich and flavorful stuffing.

Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo
Photograph by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Sitti Executive Chef Donaldo Guzman

1 Tbsp. Za’atar

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup golden raisins

3 Tbsp. chopped olives

By adding these simple traditional Lebanese ingredients in step 2, the flavor profile quickly changes to a Mediterranean-style stuffing. The Za’atar adds a blend of savory Middle Eastern spices, while the raisins give a pop of sweetness. The olives add a savorier taste to the dish and the almonds add some nutty crunch. To give the stuffing an even more Lebanese taste, I recommend using ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter in the recipe and replacing traditional black pepper with 1 tsp. of Aleppo pepper, which adds a sweet, peppery taste. This recipe could also use a touch of parsley for flavor and color. We recommend adding 1 Tbsp.

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