In the North, it's called stuffing. In the South and Midwest, it's called dressing. On the East Coast, you may hear it referred to as "filling." Whatever the name, this dish is a must-have for holiday meals all over the country. Our favorite turkey with all the trimmings wouldn't be the same without it.
It's easy to forget when you have stuffing for your traditional holiday meals that you don't have to make it the same way every time. Try improvising and experimenting with new delicious flavors.
It's hard to say exactly when stuffing was first used, but one of the oldest cookbooks out there—“Apicius de re Coquinaria”—contains recipes for stuffed pig, rabbit, and even dormouse. It's up for debate whether the first pilgrims stuffed their turkey for their first Thanksgiving. But considering that stuffing was already a popular cooking method at the time, it's definitely a possibility. We know this for sure: Thanksgiving is hardly Thanksgiving without stuffing.
Photo Credit: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, "The First Thanksgiving," 1915
Original recipes for stuffing often contained vegetables, herbs, nuts and spelt. People also used chopped liver, brains or other organ meats. If you want to try something new—and don't worry, we're not advocating you try these ancient recipes—you can put a spin on your classic stuffing by using ingredients like sausage, cranberries, and pecans that pack a flavorful punch.
If you are more of a traditionalist, simply substitute Italian sausage for another less flavorful protein. You get major pay-offs in the taste department, plus you can still have your favorite herb seasoning and veggies. Johnsonville's Traditional Stuffing is one of our go-to holiday recipes. It's simple, delicious and always satisfies. You can get the recipe here.
Another great idea is to spice up your go-to recipe with more unusual additions like black olives and sage. Johnsonville's Italian Sausage Stuffing recipe has you combine Johnsonville Italian All Natural Mild Ground Sausage with complementary flavors such as sage and dried basil, which also pair well with a game protein like turkey.
Get that recipe here.
For those who want to experiment with textures as well as flavors, adding nuts or cranberries into your stuffing is a tasty choice. Johnsonville's Sausage Pecan Stuffing recipe calls for Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage Patties, rubbed sage, dried thyme, toasted pecans and dried cranberries. You're getting sweet, savory, nutty and herbed taste notes all in one bite.
You can find the recipe here.
For more delicious takes on stuffing and creative ways to include flavorful meat into your holiday meal, check out our Sausage Sunday Pinterest board!