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[Photograph: Ellen Silverman]

Stuffing (or dressing, depending on your method and who you talk to) is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. In my opinion, shoveling forkfuls of fat-soaked bread doused in gravy and cranberry sauce into my mouth is what Thanksgiving is all about.

In The Epicurious Cookbook, editor Tanya Steel offers a few variations on dressing/stuffing, but the most vibrant is New England Sausage, Apple, and Dried Cranberry Stuffing. Along with the titled inclusions, this stuffing is flavored with grassy leeks, celery (with its leaves) rosemary, parsley, and a sprinkling of poultry seasoning. It is at once familiar and bold; the tart apples and tangy cranberries balance out the salty-rich sausage and unctuous broth-soaked bread.

Why I picked this recipe: Sausage, cranberries, and apples lend familiar yet punchy fall flavors to this stuffing (and/or dressing).

What worked: I prepared this stuffing entirely as dressing, eschewing filling the bird and baking the whole thing in a casserole dish. (The recipe offers directions for both options.) This worked swimmingly; the dressing was moist, colorful, and something.

What didn't: Nothing—worked just as promised.

Suggested tweaks: You could certainly swap out white bread for your stuffing bread of choice. The comments included in the book suggest challah or potato bread. The cranberries could also be interchanged with raisins, currants, or other dried fruit. I also used a fresh array of herbs instead of bottled poultry seasoning. To match the flavors of the dried stuff, be sure to include rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and a bit of nutmeg.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies (each) of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well and The Epicurious Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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