Ethel's Stuffing Balls Molly D'Esopo's grandmother, Ethel Grace Burgan, died at 96 in April. She presided over a large and gregarious Irish-American family. This Thanksgiving, they will miss her terribly, D'Esopo says, and will savor every bit of her famous stuffing ball dish at the meal.
NPR logo Ethel's Stuffing Balls

Ethel's Stuffing Balls

Courtesy of Molly D'Esopo
Ethel's stuffing balls
Courtesy of Molly D'Esopo

Submitted by Molly D'Esopo of Baltimore

Like most women of the 1950s, my grandmother stuffed the bird. However, there was never enough stuffing to feed her family of five kids. So to supplement, she started making cakes of stuffing that she baked in the oven — known now in the Grace family as a stuffing ball. They are at every family Thanksgiving table from Connecticut to Baltimore. And there are countless jokes about them — like how the East Coast is built not of brick but of week-old stuffing balls. Anyway, my grandmother, Ethel Grace Burgan, passed away at 96 in April. She presided over a large and gregarious Irish-American family; we miss her terribly, and each of us will savor every bit of stuffing ball this Thanksgiving.

1 large onion, cut into small dice

4-5 ribs celery (including leaves), cut into small dice

1 loaf stale white bread

1 loaf stale wheat bread

1 egg

Chicken stock


Fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear up the bread into small pieces and put in a bowl. Saute onions and celery in olive oil until soft. Add parsley, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Add to bread and toss. Add beaten egg and toss. Slowly add chicken stock until bread is moist and it becomes easy to form into about the size of a homemade hamburger. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes or so until the stuffing balls become brown crispy. Serve only at Thanksgiving (which also always includes sauerkraut).