Ah, stuffing. I was waiting for you to ask. I go through this every year, and everyone has a perennial favorite. The unpaid interns and overworked editorial staff at TMG were kind enough to whip up two different stuffing recipes at two ends of the culinary spectrum. Allow me to suggest pairings for each.
Paula Deen’s Country Stuffing
A big stuffing from a big woman demands a big wine. Given the base of white bread, white rice and white Saltines I’d definitely keep the white theme going here. With four sticks of butter and two pounds of pork sausage, this dish cries out for a crisp Pinot Gris. Or a big, honking jug wine. A California Chablis from Gallo, Masson or any of the big-name producers would do. Known for its off-putting yellow hue and nose of bowling shoes and Febreeze, it adds a distinct dimension to pretty much anything you’re eating. On the palate, it’s a curious mix of fresh-cut grass and canned fruit cocktail with slight hint of petroleum that lingers ‘til dessert.
Paula Deen’s Deep-Fried Stuffing on a Stick
Now this is quite something. If you want to double the recipe for the Country Stuffing, you can double the pleasure, double the fun, and quadruple the fat content. Just mold handfuls of the stuffing into corndog-shaped appetizers, insert wooden sticks, deep fry in a vat of lard, and voila! I didn’t make this up; see recipe below. These were a huge hit with the staff in the TMG lunchroom, paired with a well-chilled Cold Duck. Andre hasn't changed its recipe in thirty years; it still tastes like Almaden rose´ with a splash of 7Up.
Giada de Laurentiis's Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta
Here we see the distinction between stuffing and dressing, my friends. This is an elegant dish, laden with sumptuous ingredients. An American classic with a European accent, if you will. At first glance I think of a delicate Pinot, something soft, fruity, as lovely as Giada herself in simple pink chemise, barely breaking a sweat over a steaming stovetop stew of roast pork and rose petals… But after more bites I decide it could stand up to something bolder, fruitier to stand up to the smoky pancetta and rugged chestnuts.
Yes, this dish deserves something special. I’d break open a luxurious Zinfandel, a 2008 Ricardo Montalban Reserve. The ever-so-slight tease of sandalwood incense and Chanel No. 5 dovetails nicely with the rosemary in the dish, sending you to exotic far-away lands, while the palate lolls in a blend of blackberries, violets and burnt toaster waffles that coats the tongue. The touch of peppercorn on the long finish sings classic zin!
As a final aside, let me tell you one thing I’ve learned in my years of presiding over upscale suburban wine bars: Everyone secretly wants Pepperidge Farm. Sure, they’ll start out fawning over your wild rice and oyster dressing with fresh sage and juniper berries, but as the night goes on they’ll let down their guard and show their true colors. Just be sure to have a bag on hand for finicky guests and hung over relatives hankering for leftovers the next morning.
- by TMG crime, culture and food & wine editor AgentSS