Like the choices for topics to argue about while sitting around the table consuming turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, the preparation options for making stuffing to complement those Thanksgiving favorites and accompanying arguments are nearly limitless. Stuffing, which ranks ahead of mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese as America’s favorite side according to a recent study by Shipt, can be prepared in the bird or cooked on the stovetop, as the late home economist Ruth Siems first did in the 1970s. It can even be crammed into a suckling pig with small birds, just like Roman innovator Marcus Gavius Apicius did in the first century A.D. when he created the great, great grandfather of the Turducken.
In some households, stuffing goes by another name: dressing. Charlie Mitchell, who runs the kitchen of Michelin-starred Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights and was the recipient of Michelin’s 2022 New York Young Chef Award, grew up in such a household.
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“My family is from the South, so that’s what I grew up calling it,” Mitchell tells InsideHook. “We ate dressing every year. “My grandma used to put chicken gizzards and liver in cornbread dressing and get crazy with it. I was a kid who slapped way too much cranberry sauce on my dressing as a kid. I thought stuffing only existed in a Stove Top box.”
Despite siding with the majority of Americans in counting stuffing as his favorite Thanksgiving side dish, Mitchell generally only eats it once a year. “I think it’s just the occasion,” he says. “I don’t eat turkey unless it’s Thanksgiving, and it’s the same with dressing. I only want to eat it if I’m in that vibe with my family and my friends. I think you can switch it up, but if you don’t have turkey and you don’t have stuffing, is it really Thanksgiving?”
When tasked with coming up with his own version of dressing this year as part of a partnership with Shipt, Mitchell — who has dishes including stone-milled grits, Norwegian king crab and dry-aged duck on the menu at Clover Hill — went back to the past.
“Like I said, my grandmother would always have chunks of chicken goodies or something like that in the dressing,” he says. “I wanted to recreate that feeling of biting into little pieces of protein. If we were to have red beans and rice or gumbo, she would always put andouille sausage in and we always had cornbread as the side. To me, it was a no-brainer that andouille sausage and cornbread would just go very well together. I thought the spiciness with the sweetness would work very well.”
Built around those two main bases, Mitchell’s dressing is meant to stuff and satisfy, with simplicity.
“It’s very simple, but it’s also complex at the same time and there are a lot of steps to building the flavors you want to have in the finished product,” he says. “It’s just dressing, but I think if you take the time to build flavor and add your own herbs and that kind of stuff, it turns out to be something that’s much better than you probably could imagine. Put a little extra love into it. It’s not overly complex and it doesn’t take you eight hours to make, but it’s really on point.”
As Mitchell alluded to, it’s not that hard to make, so you can try it for yourself this year.
Cornbread and Andouille Sausage Dressing
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 80 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr 35 mins
Servings: 6 to 8
- Cooking spray
- 2 (8.5-ounce) boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten, divided
- ⅔ cup milk (or substitute soy milk for dairy-free version)
- 1 lb. Cajun-style andouille sausage, cut into a ⅓-inch dice
- 4 Tbsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green pepper
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Dash cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Grease an 11 x 8-inch baking dish.
Mix corn muffin mix with two eggs and milk, according to the package directions. Spoon into the prepared baking pan, and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly on a wire rack; remove from pan and cool completely. Crumble cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add to cornbread. Reduce heat to medium and, using the same skillet, add vegan butter with onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add to cornbread mixture.
Add chicken stock, the remaining egg and cayenne to the cornbread mixture. Stir well to combine. Spoon the cornbread mixture into the prepared 11 x 8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and set.
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