Stuffing is a lot like meatloaf — no two recipes are the same, but each one is “the best.” In my own suburban Massachusetts upbringing, Thanksgiving meant traditional bread stuffing — golden brown in color, with firm cubes of seasoned bread moistened with chicken stock and flecked with celery and onion. I thought ours was the only kind of stuffing there was, until I started asking around and learned about Southern cornbread stuffing (or “dressing”), rice stuffing, meat stuffing (which is very meaty and very brown), and even potato stuffing, which takes another favorite Thanksgiving side dish (mashed potatoes) and morphs them into something even more delicious.
Curious about New England stuffing history, I headed to the Yankee archives and was delighted to find Leslie Land’s 1996 article “The Right Stuffing.” After a thorough examination of the stuffing vs. dressing debate (you’ll have to read it yourself for the final verdict), Land conducted a poll to learn once and for all what Yankee readers called their stuffing/dressing, and how they made it. She also included a handful of recipes, so I decided to think outside the bird and make one that was totally unlike my own family recipe — a simple but intriguing dish titled Potato Lovers’ Stuffing. Its origins are muddled (Irish? German? French-Canadian? Pennsylvania-Dutch?), but Land notes that “it makes mashed potatoes redundant, which leaves more room for the candied sweet potatoes.” It’s hard to argue with that.
To start, boil and mash the potatoes. I didn’t have any high-starch Russets on hand (the best for mashed potatoes) so I used Yukon Gold instead. As a medium to low starch variety, they aren’t the best for mashed, but they’ll still get the job done.
Once mashed, the potatoes are mixed with milk and poultry seasoning, and here in New England, that means Bell’s Seasoning. The cheerful box is a staple in nearly every Yankee kitchen, where it’s prized for its fragrant combination of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram (both salt-free and all-natural).
Keeping the seasoned potatoes warm, you’ll next melt a generous amount of butter in a large skillet (the recipe called for 5 tablespoons but I just tossed in the whole stick — this is the “what calories?” holiday season, right?) and cook up some onions and celery. Mix it all together with breadcrumbs, season to taste, and voilà…potato stuffing.
Part mashed potatoes…part bread stuffing…what’s not to love?
Where do you stand on potato stuffing? Stuffing in general? Let us know in the comments!
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.