It is Thanksgiving and I, as always, make a huge meal. This year I thankfully passed off the privilege of making desserts to my son Jack’s girlfriend, Bianca (And, by the way, the apple pie and s’mores cupcakes were delicious). Why? In my infinite, albeit crazy mind, I decided to do a stuffing-off. My oyster stuffing against the famous Grandma Puleo’s Italian stuffing.
How did this come to be? Grandma Puleo was a fantastic cook. I have several of her recipes and, wow, this woman knew how to put ingredients together. But I must admit, I never saw what the big deal was over Rose’s stuffing. It’s okay, but not how the family makes it out to be. Every year John tells his father you missed the stuffing I made. This Thanksgiving I wanted to make up a new recipe of oyster stuffing; I thought it would be a nice change. You would have thought I was cancelling Thanksgiving!
I sent out a group text and asked, “What do you think about giving Grandma’s stuffing a break and trying oyster stuffing this year?” My phone blew up. “Nnnooo! Only if I’m guaranteed it is TOP notch! What? But it’s tradition! Only if it can beat her stuffing and even then….Hey, I’m always down for something new EVEN IF you’re messin with perfection.” But what was I thinking?!
I suggested I make both and see which one they like better; to which John said, “Somewhere Rose Puleo is smiling”. He’s right. I think she would like a little competition.
It was just before serving time. Anticipation filled the air as everyone sat down. I had, of course, taste tested all my food and in particular the stuffings. I, myself, thought it was close but gave the edge to the oyster stuffing. We had in our midst someone who did not grow up on Rose’s stuffing so I knew Bianca would be an impartial judge, even though I knew the boys would be great judges as they are always up for trying new things. You have to be in this house. I’m always creating new recipes.
We sat down, gave thanks and started filling our plates. I watched as they tried the two stuffings. I couldn’t believe it! It was a landslide. Well, I guess I will be making Grandma’s stuffing for the rest of my life. Rose definitely would’ve never let me forget her win!
John has never let me share her recipe. However, it was his father, John, who told me I should put it on my blog. Father trumps son. Sorry hubby. So, with father John’s permission, I give you Grandma Puleo’s Stuffing recipe in honor of Rose Puleo; one of the best cooks I knew and who, along with my mother, inspired me to be creative.
Until next time, happy creating.
Grandma Puleo’s Stuffing (Dressing)
Slight Adaption by Dina Puleo
Note: Every year Grandma Puleo made this stuffing. I was given her recipe so I could carry on the tradition for my husband and our family. I do not stuff my turkey, as I like putting aromatics inside the cavity. If you do stuff the turkey make sure you insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of stuffing to make sure it has reached 165°F. If it has not, and your turkey is done, just put it in a microwave-safe bowl and cook it on high until it reads 165°F.
Note 2: If not stuffing the turkey, this recipe can be made a day ahead. Once baked, allow cooling before covering and placing in the refrigerator.
1 ½ pounds ground beef*
½ pound sausage meat* (I use mild sweet Italian sausage either store bought or homemade)
1 loaf Italian bread
1 teaspoon salt
1 boiled egg, chopped into small pieces
¼ pound Italian ham, diced (I like using Capocollo)
¼ pound provolone, diced
¼ pound grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°
Fry ground beef and sausage until no longer pink.
Break up pieces of the Italian bread loaf and put in a blender. Pulse to make breadcrumbs. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add fried meat and salt. Combine well.
Add to the bread mixture the boiled egg, ham, and provolone. Mix well. Add the raw eggs and grated cheese to the mixture and thoroughly combine. If stuffing mixture is too dry, mix in another egg.
Put Stuffing in a large baking dish or 13 x 9 pan. Place in oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until cooked through.
Or if stuffing the turkey – stuff the turkey once the mixture is cold.
*This also works well with 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of Italian sausage.