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Cranberries and figs perk up turkey stuffings

For many Americans, the best reason for having a turkey is the stuffing and for some people there is only one kind to have. That particular kind may be oyster stuffing - or chestnut or just plain bread stuffing.

So for the more adventurous family and guests, the answer is to provide a stuffing with something slightly different combined with other familiar stuffing ingredients.

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A useful rule of thumb in judging the amount of stuffing needed is to allow 1 /2 cup of stuffing for each pound of bird. Dressings are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 to 170 degrees F.

Make dressings just before cooking the stuffed food, for the best texture and to avoid spoilage. If made ahead the stuffing should be refrigerated separately from the bird.

It is important to handle stuffings lightly so as not to compact them, and to allow space for the mixture to swell and stay light.

Additional stuffing that will not fit in the turkey can be baked in a casserole in the same oven as the turkey for 35 to 40 minutes. It will not have quite the flavor that the stuffing baked inside the turkey has, but is delicious nonetheless.

Dried figs from California, pineapple, and toasted walnuts are ideal to add to the holiday menu. With a basic corn stuffing mix this can fill an eight to ten pound bird with enough stuffing to use as filling for acorn squash. Fruit, Nut, Corn Bread Stuffing 1 turkey, 8 to 10 pounds Salt and pepper 1 12-ounce box corn bread stuffing mix Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks with juice 1 cup butter or margarine, melted 11/2 cups chopped dried figs 1 cup coarsely broken toasted walnuts 3 small acorn squash, cut into halves, seeds removed

Sprinkle turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. Mix dressing, lemon juice and rind, pineapple chunks and juice, melted butter, dried figs and nuts. Stuff hollows of acorn squash.

Spoon remaining stuffing into turkey. Sew or skewer opening. Roast turkey in a shallow roasting pan in a pre-heated moderate oven 350 degrees F. Place stuffed squash halves into oven with turkey afer the turkey has cooked 11/2 hours and bake for 1 hour or until squash is easily pierced.

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Cook turkey for 21/2 to 3 hours or until turkey leg is easily moved up and down. Makes 6 servings.

Cranberries perk up a plain bread stuffing, with chopped celery and onion added for traditional flavor. This recipe makes enough stuffing for a slightly smaller bird, from six to eight pounds. Of course, the amount of ingredients can be increased for a larger turkey. Cranberry Stuffing 1 1/2 cups chicken broth 1 cup fresh cranberries 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 cup chopped celery 1/3 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 7-ounce package all-purpose seasoned stuffing

In saucepan, bring chicken broth, cranberries, and sugar to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Set aside. In large skillet over low heat, saute celery and onion in butter until tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in stuffing until well blended. Lightly stir in cranberry mixture. Stuff a 6 to 8 pound turkey or place in buttered casserole, cover, and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

This stuffing is so easy and so very plain it might well have come from a Shaker cookbook.

It is nice for chicken and other poultry but it is ideal for the time when you want a very light, refreshing filling for roast turkey. Plain Parsley Stuffing 6 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, choppe 3 cups toasted bread cubes Grated zest 3 lemons 1 1/2 cups chopped parsley 3 eggs, beaten 3/4 cup melted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in skillet and saute onions over medium heat until soft and transluscent.

In mixing bowl combine bread crumbs, grated lemon, parsley, and onions, then add eggs, melted butter and mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste.

This celery stuffing is a good basic recipe that can have additions, but it is by no means dull when fresh, crisp celery is used. Chopped pecans, ham, oysters or olives may be added to it. Herbed Celery Stuffing 4 tablespoons butter 2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional) 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried marjoram 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried sage 3 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs 3/4 cup melted butter Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter and add celery, onion, garlic and saute until onion is transluscent and soft. Celery should be somewhat crunchy. Add lemon zest, parsley, and seasonings and saute a minute or two longer.

Combine in a mixing bowl the bread, melted butter and seasoning mixture and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 5 cups.

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