STYLE

10 Things: Thinking beyond boring stuffing with 10 fresh ways to doctor purchased stuffing mix

10/28/2014 10:39 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST
Let's be clear about something... When making stuffing, it's always better to slice and dry your own bread cubes. Hands down, the taste and texture are better.

But let's also be realistic. In the chaos of getting the many components of Thanksgiving dinner on the table in a timely manner, many of us won't have the time to make that happen. It's all good. Truth is, you can make a pretty respectable stuffing using those bagged stuffing mixes.

It all comes down to how you doctor it (in other words, what you add to it). If all you do is follow the package directions — which usually amount to not much more than adding broth and an onion — you're doomed to dull stuffing. But if you're willing to toss in some more exciting ingredients, you can have a great stuffing nobody will guess started in a bag.

So here are 10 fresh combinations to consider adding to your purchased stuffing mix.

10 FRESH WAYS WITH STUFFING MIX:

Start with a 12-ounce bag of stuffing mix, flavour of your choice. Prepare according to package directions, but add one of the following combinations before baking the stuffing.

— Corned beef hash: Saute 1 finely diced large potato and 1 pound diced corned beef until the potatoes are tender and the corner beef is browned, then add to and proceed with the recipe.

—Golden stuffing muffins: Saute 1 cup finely diced carrot, 1 cup finely diced sweet potato, 2 cups finely diced butternut squash in a bit of oil until tender. Whisk 2 eggs into whatever broth is called for by the stuffing mix, then add as directed. Scoop the mix into oiled muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

— Cherry-berry nut: Add 1 cup chopped dried cherries, 1 cup chopped dried cranberries, 1 cup chopped toasted pecans and the zest of 2 oranges.

— Double onion: Caramelize 2 thinly sliced onions in a bit of butter over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until well browned. Add to the stuffing mixture and proceed as directed, also stirring in 2 bunches chopped scallions.

— Sausage-chestnut: Brown 1 pound of loose sausage and 1 cup chopped chestnut meats, then add to and proceed with the recipe.

— Forest mushroom and rice: Saute 8 ounces of mixed mushrooms in butter until well browned. Add the mushrooms and 1 cup cooked wild rice to the stuffing mixture.

— Orchard ginger: Add 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 1 diced large apple and 1 diced large pear.

— Pumpkin-seeded: Stir in 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds and 1 cup pumpkin puree.

— Herbed trout: Add 2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh thyme, sage and chives. Once the stuffing is assembled, gently mix in 8 ounces flaked smoked trout or mackerel.

— Mediterranean: Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped capers, 3 ounces chopped prosciutto and 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes. Once assembled, gently stir in 4 ounces shredded manchego cheese.

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