Stuffing Showdown Winner Announced Today

Emeril Lagasse and "Good Morning America" sent out the call to find the best stuffing in the country, and hundreds sent their recipes -- but only one could win.

The new Stuffing Queen Hollie Dorethy of Sachse, Texas, was crowned today on "GMA." She won for her Down Home Italian Dressing -- which combines her Southern roots and her husband's Italian heritage.

Aylette Roper of Little Rock, Ark., and Bryan "Ace" Sagor of San Antonio, Texas, were also on "GMA" as runnerups.

You can find all five finalists' delicious recipes below, one on each page.

Winner: Down Home Italian Dressing

Submitted by Hollie Dorethy of Sachse, Texas: Well, I am a very Southern Texas girl who married into a rather large Italian family. After the first family gathering at Thanksgiving, I decided the next year I had better incorporate some Italian flare into my very Southern cooking! Here is my version of mixing old-world Italian style with a little ol' time Southern tradition! I hope y'all enjoy as much as we have!

Ingredients:

1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage cooked and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 extra-large yellow onion, chopped
7 large celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces pancetta, diced
6 cups day-old, finely diced French bread
3 cups crumbled unsweetened cornbread
½ cup butter, cubed, cold
1 tablespoon ground sage
1½ tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup toasted pine nuts
4-5 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
large Parmesan shavings

Directions:

Heat oil in large skillet on medium. Sauté pancetta for 2 minutes.
Add onion and celery and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 3 minutes.
Mix together breads and ¾ cup toasted pine nuts in a large mixing bowl. Add cheeses and cooked sausage to the breads. Mix together with the dried seasonings.
Add sautéed veggies with any pan drippings.
Slowly add broth and stir until mixed thoroughly. The consistency should not be soupy, but very moist. If not, add more broth.
Test for saltiness and add a dash more if needed.
Place in an extra deep 9-inch-by-13-inch greased pan.
Dot the top with the cubed butter and cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until slightly crusted on the edges.
Top with remaining toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh sage. Add shaved cheese just before serving.

Southern Plantation Dressing

Submitted by Aylette Roper of Little Rock, Ark.: This recipe has been in my family since before the Civil War and has been served every single holiday without any variance on the original recipe. Coming up with measurements was difficult due to the fact that the recipe has been hand taught through every generation.

My grandmother taught me how to make it. My great-grandmother was raised on Twin Oaks Plantation in Leland, Miss., and her mother taught it to her, and so on. We know for a fact that this recipe is more than 150 years old. Over the years, every single person I have ever served it to raved that it was the best they ever had and requested the recipe. It wouldn't be a holiday in our family without it.

It has very few ingredients, but my grandmother sticks to the motto, "Sometimes simpler is better." When making this dish, you are going to think the amount of onions, celery, salt and pepper is way too much. Don't worry, it mixes in eventually and ends up delicious every time.

Ingredients:

1 pan cornbread, stale and crumbled
20 slices white bread, stale, toasted and pulled apart into tiny pieces
Approximately 1 quart homemade chicken broth (canned will work in a pinch)
2 cups white or yellow onions, very finely chopped
2 cups of celery, very finely chopped
3 bunches green onions, bulbs and greens, very finely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter salt and pepper to taste (a lot of it)

Directions:

Mix white bread and cornbread together into a bowl and set aside.
Melt butter and add all onions and celery. Sauté until they have released all their liquids and are translucent.
Mix onion-celery mixture into bread mixture. Add at least 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Slowly start adding in chicken broth. Gradually add broth, continually blending until the mixture has absorbed all the liquid it can without extra liquid in the bowl. You'll know when mixture is saturated when you press a spoon against botton of bowl and the broth barely seeps out.
Keep adding salt and pepper until adequetely seasoned.
Optional: Depending on who you're serving, mix in 1 pint drained, shucked oysters.
Put in large baking dish and bake at 350° for 30 minutes covered with foil. Finish uncovered for another 20 minutes or until browned and the center is firm.

Maria's Stuffin' Muffins

Rose Anne Belluso from Flemington, N.J., entered her sister Maria Vitale's recipe : This is my sister Maria's adaptation of our traditional family recipe. This stuffing is sooooo good that we think the turkey should be the side dish and the stuffing the main event. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, moist and crunchy. Sometimes Maria puts the stuffing in muffin tins and we each get our own "indi" crispy on the outside, moist on the inside stuffing muffin. Sending this in will be a total surprise to my sister who would never have the notion to send it herself.

Ingredients:

1 bag Pepperidge Farm cornbread cubes
1 pound bulk sage pork sausage
1 stick butter
2 chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 bag craisins (dried cranberries)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 to 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place cornbread cubes in large mixing bowl.
Sauté sausage and onions in skillet until brown, breaking up sausage into small pieces. Drain in colander and transfer to bowl.
Melt butter in same skillet and sauté celery until crisp and tender. Add to bowl.
Add apple and remaining ingredients, except broth.
Mix all and then add broth until thoroughly moistened but not really wet.
Add eggs and baking powder. Mix well.
Place stuffing mixture in a large, greased glass casserole or in 12 muffin tins. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered for casserole and 25 minutes for muffins. Enjoy warm.

Maine Seafood Stuffing

Submitted by Linda Hoglund from Franklin, Maine: It's a Maine seafood stuffing -- the best you've ever had! I grew up on the coast of Maine where seafood is plentiful. My husband, a lobster fisherman and scallop diver, came up with this some years ago. It's now a big favorite of ours, and we're glad to share with you.

Ingredients:

1 cup of groundup Ritz crackers
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup of onions
1 pound fresh Maine scallops
1 cup of fresh Maine shrimp
1 cup of Maine crab legs
½ cup of sliced celery ½ cup chopped pepper, orange and yellow peppers
2 eggs
¾ cup melted better
¼ cup cooking sherry (or white wine substitute)
1 clove fresh chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook seafood in 1 cup boiling salted water. Cook till ¾ done, strain seafood out of water. Add bread crumbs. Ritz crackers, and cover till liquid is absorbed.
In another skillet, carmelize peppers, celery and onion, then add to bread-Ritz mixture.
Add the eggs and melted butter, stir in seafood and ¼ cup sherry. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
Now you're ready to stuff your turkey the down East way. We serve ours with a white cream sauce on top of the stuffing. This stuffing can also be used to stuff clams, on top of crab cakes or on a pork chop -- it's all wicked good!

Ace's Southern Cornbread Dressing

Submitted by Bryan "Ace" Sagor of San Antonio, Texas: Simple and simply delicious -- I have been making this cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving for more than 30 years. Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without my stuffing, and the anticipation of this wonderful dish never disappoints. Enjoy, y'all!

Ingredients:

8 cups cornbread, crumbled
4 cups soft white bread shredded
1 cup butter (salted)
1 cup diced celery
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil to sauté

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Cut butter and add to breadcrumbs (both corn and white breads).
Sauté veggies in oil and add to bread mixture.
Mix in seasonings.
Add in eggs and broth until thoroughly mixed and moist.
Bake in large covered dish for 30 minutes. Remove cover for last 10 minutes to brown.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

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