Whether it's stuffing or dressing to you, seafood makes it special.

By Donna Florio
October 11, 2002
Charles Walton IV

Whenever Thanksgiving draws near, a song gets stuck in my head. You probably know the one: "We gather together to ask for more dressing..."

I have a feeling I'm not alone in my obsession. While we may adore turkey, the bird is blah without the accompaniments we've come to expect. Dressing (or stuffing, if you prefer) is required. Just envision a plate of juicy white meat flanked by a mound of rich dressing, both slathered with succulent gravy. Add a dab of sweet-tart cranberry sauce and your favorite holiday vegetable for a mouthwatering daydream that might send you racing to the grocery to create a real-life feast. While you're there, pick up some seafood to make your dressing even more delicious.

Shellfish--especially oysters, clams, crabs, shrimp, and crawfish--adds rich depth of flavor and texture to dressings. Whether the base is homemade cornbread, herbed bread, rice, or even couscous, there's a shellfish that will marry with it. Oysters, especially, are favorites in dressing, from New England to Seattle. Crabmeat is another popular dressing ingredient, often paired with bread or rice. The combination is fabulous in fish as well as turkey.

But perhaps the seafood dressing tradition is new to you. Not to worry: We asked several renowned coastal chefs to offer us their versions of great seafood dressings. Their recipes are as varied as their restaurants' locales, but all share a common bond--they are absolutely delicious. Now there's a reason to give thanks.