Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Just Have To Read This

Sorry everyone, I just couldn't think of an eye catching title for this blog post. I suppose I could have said, "Stuffings vs. Dressings" or " The History of Stuffing" or "Stuffing Recipes", but I don't think those would have done it. So please accept my apology and I hope you still read through and try one of these great side dishes.

Stuffing or Dressing?

The difference between the two is simple. Do you say "ta-ta", "toodly-oo" or "See ya' later", "Bye" as your departure phrase? Do you say "I am famished"? Or is it more like " I'm so hungry my back bone is touching my belly button"?
Originally known as farce, which means 'to stuff', it was also known as "sauce" up until the 18th century. For centuries, the word stuffing, farce and sauce was universally used without a problem. Then sometime in the 19th century, the rich, upper class societies in Europe thought that these words were too vulgar and 'lower class' to be used in the proper denotation of this, much enjoyed, bread dish. So what did they do? Well, they started calling it Dressing of course.
What I am trying to say is, the only difference between the words stuffing and dressing is how fancy you want to sound. Some chefs will tell you that stuffing is the product you stuff the turkey with while dressing is baked in a pan, separate from the poultry. If that is what you prefer, then I am all for it. But having said stuffing my entire life, as have the first and second Yankee Chefs, I find no need to differentiate the two words.
Thanksgiving by Doris Lee, 1935

So with meaningless banter out of the way, allow me to offer some great tasting, homemade STUFFINGS that truly brings many levels of taste and texture to the table. Now let's eat supper....suppah.....dinner....whatever! Let's just take repast.....dine....eat.....

No matter how you make your stuffing, keep a few basics in mind:

In general, plan on 3/4 cup to 1 cup cooked stuffing per person.
To give your stuffing casserole a crisp crust and a moist interior, bake it covered at first, but remove the cover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.I prefer it cooked without a cover the entire time.
If you have any leftover stuffing, promptly cover and refrigerate. Use it up within two days. Freezing isn't recommended.

Turkey with Apricot Chestnut Stuffing

No-stick cooking spray
1 loaf (16 oz.) sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 c. butter or margarine
3 onions, chopped (about 1-1/2 c.)
1-1/2 c. chopped celery
4 t. poultry seasoning
1 t. salt
2-1/2 c. coarsely chopped chestnuts*
1-1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. raisins
2 c. chicken broth
1 turkey(16 lbs.), thawed if frozen

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray large shallow baking pan with no- stick cooking spray; spread bread cubes onto bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in poultry seasoning and salt. Place bread cubes, vegetables, chestnuts, apricots and raisins in large bowl; mix lightly. Add broth; mix well.
Reduce oven to 325° F. Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; refrigerate for another use or discard. Drain juices from turkey. Fill neck cavity with some stuffing. Fill body cavity with remaining stuffing. Place turkey, breast up, on roasting rack. Place small pieces of aluminum foil over skin of neck cavity and over stuffing at body cavity opening to prevent overbrowning during roasting. If you have any extra stuffing, bake in separate pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You should add and extra 1/4 c. broth as well. Bake covered at 325° F for 30 minutes or until hot.
Roast turkey 4-1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 160° F when inserted in center of stuffing and reaches 180° F when inserted in deep in thigh, covering breast and top of drumsticks with aluminum foil after 3 hours to prevent overcooking breast. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing with Giblet Gravy

1 box (8.5-oz.) cornbread mix
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 T. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 c. chicken broth

Remove the gizzards and neck from turkey. Cut the wings at the second joint(this includes the wing tips) and place them in a bowl: set aside for gravy.Prepare cornbread from mix, according to package directions. Cool completely in pan. While cornbread bakes, brown sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir sausage frequently while browning to break up any large clumps.
Crumble cooled cornbread into small pieces and lay on a baking sheet to air dry. In a bowl, combine cornbread, cooked sausage, celery, and green onions. Add poultry seasoning and broth. Mix well; stuff inside turkey cavities.
While your turkey is roasting, prepare gravy:

Phenomenal Pan Gravy

Reserved gizzards, neck and wings
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 c. water
2 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. turkey drippings from roasted turkey
1/4 c. flour
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. red currant or grape jelly
Salt and black pepper to taste

Make sure you are roasting your turkey in a high-sided roasting pan, at least 2 inches. Place the giblets, turkey neck, and clipped turkey wing tips into a large saucepan with the carrots, celery, water, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that forms on the top, reduce heat to low, and simmer the stock for 3 hours. Strain the stock*, skim off the fat, and set aside. There should be about 4 c. of stock. If not, simply add enough chicken broth to make 4 cups.
Skim off and discard all but 1/4 c. of the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan, and place the roasting pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then cook and stir the flour mixture 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and tomato paste; bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then whisk in the red currant jelly. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

*Know what The Yankee Chef does? I take the vegetables from the stock(just the vegetables) and puree them in my blender or food processor. I then add them back into the strained stock. It has great flavor and a robust texture.

Apple Walnut Stuffing

1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. regular or sparkling apple cider
1 lb. bread cubes
1 T. poultry seasoning
2 c. chopped, peeled apple
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook celery and onion in butter or margarine until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heat for 2 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, add celery mixture, and mix well. Loosely stuff turkey just before roasting. Place remaining stuffing in a greased baking dish and bake at 325º F for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

Here are some ideas to play around with:

Hot Bourbon Stuffing - Add some bourbon and chili powder for a punch.
Spicy Southwestern Stuffing - Add some chopped green chilies and whole kernel corn to your cornbread stuffing.
Mediterranean Stuffing - The addition of black olives, artichoke hearts, red wine and sundried tomatoes to your rice stuffing is a great alternative.
Italian stuffing - Parmesan cheese, squeezed spinach, oregano, basil, and white wine added to bread stuffing is super tasty.
Mexican stuffing - Add garlic, red mole and chayote squash for the WOW factor.
Hawaiian stuffing - Rice stuffing with coconut milk, macadamia nuts and pineapple.

Another great idea that helps control the portions is to bake individual stuffing portions in muffin tins. Not only will it give you an accurate count but the entire serving will be crisp all around.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Grapes and Hazelnuts

2 cans (28-30 oz. total) chicken broth
1 c. wild rice
4 slices bacon, diced
2 onions, chopped (1 1/2 c.)
1 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. button mushrooms, sliced
1 t. minced garlic in oil
1 t. chopped, fresh thyme
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 c. shelled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped*
2 c. seedless grapes

In heavy saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add wild rice and stir. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for one hour, until rice is tender and has popped open. Meanwhile, cook bacon in skillet over medium until almost crisp. Add onions to bacon pan along with celery, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and fold in hazelnuts and grapes. Add rice with any remaining liquid in pan to vegetable mixture and toss well to combine.
Stuffing may be used to fill turkey, game hens, or chicken. Stuffing may also be baked separately in a casserole dish covered with foil; bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes until hot throughout.

* If you would like to toast hazelnuts, place in 350°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes. Rub in a clean dishtowel to remove skins.

Pure Holiday Stuffing

1 loaf dried white bread*
1 c. cooked white rice
1/2 sleeve saltines, crushed
1/2 lb. ground sausage
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped, green onion
3 c. chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 t. dried sage
1 T. poultry seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crumble oven-dried bread into a large bowl. Add rice and saltines. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add celery and onion and saute until transparent, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour over bread and rice mixture. Add stock and mix well. Add salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning. Mix well. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix well. Pour stuffing into a greased pan and bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

*Place bread on counter overnight or place in a 200-degree F oven for 1 hour.

Hazelnut Sage Stuffing

1 (1 lb.) loaf multigrain bread, cubed
1/4 c. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 t. minced garlic in oil
4 T. rubbed sage
1 lb. button or Cremini mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 c. vegetable stock
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes over a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they're light brown and slightly crisp on the outside. Set the bread aside and turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onion, fennel and garlic until they're slightly translucent, about five to seven minutes. Add the sage and mushrooms and cook everything down for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are at about half of their original volume. Season with salt and pepper to taste as you go. Add the bread cubes to a large bowl and mix in the cooked vegetable mixture, and mix together well. Add the vegetable stock and two eggs over the bread mixture and stir everything one more time. You want it moist but not soggy. The eggs should coat everything. Spread the stuffing into a 9 x 13-inch dish and sprinkle the hazelnuts over the entire casserole. Bake the stuffing for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is nicely toasted on top and moist in the middle.

I am saving the best for last. This time honored classic stuffing has been on our tables for many, many generations. Because oysters have been used as food in New England for centuries because of our location to the ocean, oyster heaps have been documented to have existed even previous to clam shell heaps. It was a "pick up" food, as lobsters were during our Puritan ear. All one had to do was bend over and either pick up a lobster or pry off an oyster off any beach along our shores. AS early as the mid-1600s, oysters were used as "sauces"(stuffings) for rabbit, fowl and fish.

I have taken the classic Oyster Stuffing and given it boost, in the style of Oysters Rockefeller. So with that in mind, go ahead and call it Oyster Dressing if you want.

Yankee Oyster "Dressing"

8 oz. fresh spinach, stems cut off
1 1/2 c. corn bread stuffing mix
1 lb. container of oysters, undrained
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
Cooking spray
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
3 c. cooked wild rice
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Blanch the washed, and still wet, spinach in a microwavable bowl for about one minute or until just soft. Squeeze out the excess liquid, coarsely chop. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions, omitting fat and set aside. Drain oysters in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 c. oyster liquid. Slice eggs in half lengthwise, discard yolks and finely chop the egg whites.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in oysters and cook 2 minutes. Stir in prepared stuffing, oyster liquid, egg whites, wild rice and remaining ingredients including spinach. Add Parmesan cheese to your desire. Spread dressing in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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