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Taste Taste: Stuffing

Before there was cranberry sauce, before there was the Little Pie Company’s sour-cream apple walnut pie, before there was even such a thing as Thanksgiving dinner, there was stuffing. The term, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, first appeared in English during the sixteenth century, thus predating both the pilgrims and Pepperidge Farm. Today, no Thanksgiving table is complete without this ancient comfort food, and there’s no shame in getting it ready-made. We tasted 30 local versions and ranked our favorites below.

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Prop Styling by Ed Gabriels/Halley Resources. Spoons Available at James Robinson, Inc. New York.  

1. Citarella’s sausage
2135 Broadway, at 75th St., and 1313 Third Ave., at 75th St.; 212-874-0383
$5.99 per pound. Order by November 21.
The winner, it builds on a moist cornbread base that’s spiked with fresh corn, big chunks of sweet Italian sausage, fennel seed, crunchy celery, onion, and a flavorful chicken stock.


2. City Bakery cornbread
3 W. 18th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-366-1414
Small (serves two to four), $15; large (serves eight), $40; order by November 18.
This vegetarian southwestern-style cornbread stuffing is sweet and spicy with a little crunch. Large pieces of cornbread are studded with spicy roasted green chiles, pumpkin seeds, a little posole for chewiness, and tart cranberries to balance the sweetness.


3. Fairway mushroom-herb
2328 Twelfth Ave., nr. 132nd St.; 212-234-3883 and 2127 Broadway, at 74th St.; 212-595-1888
$5.99 per pound (for more than four pounds, call 866-392-2837); order by November 20.
The dark-brown stuffing studded with crisp carrots has an intense woodsy flavor from the finely chopped and slowly sautéed white-button mushrooms. Celery, onion, sage, thyme, and chicken stock add a depth of flavor to the white-bread crumbs.


4. Eli’s traditional bread
1411 Third Ave., at 80th St.; 212-717-8100 and Eli’s Vinegar Factory, 431 E. 91st St., nr. First Ave.; 212-987-0885
$9.95 per pound (for more than five pounds, order by November 21).
Eli’s sourdough and Tuscan bread is the secret here. The dried bread cubes don’t turn mushy when tossed with onions, celery, fresh thyme, and chicken stock. The top is dotted with butter, and needs about 30 minutes in the oven to create a nice crust.


5. Grace’s Marketplace wild-rice
1237 Third Ave., at 71st St.; 212-737-0600
$8.50 per pound; order by November 21.
A cross between rice salad and stuffing, and another option for vegetarians. Wild rice is tossed with a generous amount of chunky white mushrooms, scallions, and fresh sage; roasted chestnuts add sweetness.


6. City Bakery oyster-and-bacon
Small, $20; large, $50; order by November 18.
The whole-wheat sourdough bread, moistened with oyster juice, envelops the bivalves while cooking to prevent them from becoming rubbery. Niman Ranch slab bacon adds an intriguing smoky-briny flavor.


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