Stuffing Taste Test

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It’s comforting to be organized, especially before Thanksgiving dinner. To that point, a taste test-version of several stuffings might not be a bad idea.

Here is a variety to choose from. Serve them with your favorite complementary protein and figure out what will best round out your holiday table. Or just enjoy them now and every other day you feel like making and eating stuffing.

Bon appétit!

Apples, Apricots, Prunes, & Walnut Stuffing(For a 10- to 12-pound turkey)2 cups dried apricots

25 large, pitted prunes

2 cups Madeira, or more if necessary

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 large shallots, chopped

1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped

4 or 5 sprigs of fresh marjoram, leaves removed

6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, slivered

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lemons, juiced

8 tart crisp apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into eighths

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Freshly grated nutmeg, to tasteTo prepare:Add apricots and prunes to a medium non-reactive bowl.

Pour Madeira over dried fruit until barely covered.

Place plastic wrap over the bowl and let stand at room temperature overnight or until the fruit is juicy, up to 2 days.

To make stuffing, add oil and butter to a large skillet and cook over moderate heat.

Heat until foam subsides, then add shallots and celery and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.

Stir marjoram and sage into the vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, pare and slice apples and roll in lemon juice.

Stir apples into the shallots and sauté until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add plumped fruit and walnuts and mix well.

Taste, add nutmeg and adjust the seasonings.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place stuffing in a buttered casserole dish, then cover and bake until the apples are tender and the stuffing is hot, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Can be made ahead and stored in the fridge up to 3 days before baking.Bread Stuffing With Peppers, Celery, Onion, And Olives(Serves 8 to 10 or enough to stuff a 12- to 15-pound turkey)8 cups whole grain bread or other hearty bread, crusts removed and cut into squares

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup olive oil, or more if necessary

2 large onions, chopped

4 stalks celery with green leaves, chopped

4 large bell peppers, assorted colors, seeded and cut into dice

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons dried marjoram leaves,

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste

1 to 1½ cup coarsely chopped green and black pitted olives, preferably imported

Chicken stock, for moisteningTo prepare:One day before preparing the dressing, cut bread into cubes and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate high heat.

When the foam subsides, add the onions and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add bell peppers and continue cooking, about 5 minutes longer.

Stir fresh herbs into the vegetables and sauté until aromatic.

Add half of the bread and sauté until butter is absorbed and bread is light brown.

Add olives to the mixture and sauté about 5 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a bowl of remaining bread and mix well. Moisten with chicken stock as needed.

Transfer to a buttered baking/serving dish and bake at 375 degrees until the top is brown and dressing is hot, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Can be made ahead and stored up to 3 days before baking.Brown And Wild Rice Stuffing With Cranberries(Enough for a 10- to 12-pound turkey)1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup sundried cranberries

2 cups wild rice

2 cups brown rice

1/2 cup unsalted butter

4 stalks celery, diced

1 large or 2 medium onions, diced

4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped

1 teaspoon dry marjoram

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 quarts turkey or chicken stock

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnishTo prepare:Add orange juice to a small saucepan and cook over moderate high heat to simmer.

Remove from heat.

Add cranberries and macerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash wild rice, changing the water 3 times.

Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven over moderate heat.

Add celery and onions and sauté until soft and translucent.

Add brown and wild rice, thyme, marjoram, salt, pepper and stock.

Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Place the casserole or Dutch oven in the oven and bake until tender, about 40 to 45 minutes.

During the baking time, the rice will open and most of the liquid will be absorbed.

Remove from the oven, then strain out the remaining liquid.

Return casserole to oven and bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

With a fork, stir in cranberries, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Use parsley to garnish.

Can be stored for up to 2 days before serving.

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