Marilyn Monroe's Secret Stuffing Recipe

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The New York Times reports that Fragments, a book of rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe as well as letters and other documents from the late celebrity, contains an unlikely culinary gem: her recipe for stuffing. And not just any stuffing! The recipe, write Matt and Ted Lee, who have devised an updated version for home cooks, "suggests that she not only cooked, but cooked confidently and with flair":

Scrawled on stationery with a letterhead from a title insurance company, the recipe describes in some detail how to prepare a stuffing for chicken or turkey. The formula is extensive in the number of ingredients (11, not including the 5 herbs and spices, or salt and pepper), and in their diversity (3 kinds of nuts and 3 animal proteins). It is unorthodox for an American stuffing in its use of a bread loaf soaked in water, wrung dry and shredded, and in its lack of added fat, broth, raw egg or any other binder.

It also bears the unmistakable balance of fussiness and flexibility that is the hallmark of an experienced and confident cook. Giblets are to be "liver-heart," and the beef is to be "browned (no oil)," yet certain other details are left flapping in the wind: the amount of spices is not specified, nor the amount of "parsarly." O.K., the instruction of "1 handful" of grated Parmesan is clear enough, but what to make of the first line -- "No garlic" -- of the recipe?

For recipe-restoration geeks like us, this was a challenge we couldn't resist, especially as we head into high season for stuffing. Our goal was to fill in the blanks and produce a stuffing recipe that anyone could complete successfully. Of all the souvenirs of Marilyn's life available, this was the one we actually wanted.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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