It is my understanding that right now in New England, the weather has really gone fall. Leaves coming down, the big October rain storms, temps averaging in the upper 50s, maybe low 60s in the day, and right about now is when the first fires are lit. This makes me happy for two reasons: Reason one, it’s still hot and dry here in southern California, and reason two, I get to start putting more and more fall recipes up. As I chef, the seasons are very important to me, and the change of the seasons in exciting! Heirloom tomatoes, garden vegetables, great grilling are some of my favorite things, but realistically, when falls comes, a change can be refreshing.
Now here it is, October, Halloween is right around the corner, and after that is the big push to Thanksgiving. We do not need any excuse to make Thanksgiving food any time of year, but now that the time of year is almost here, I will begin posting some of my favorites. Today: stuffing. I think I mentioned a while ago that generally, I do not like stuffing a bird, but Thanksgiving being what it is, I think you have to. Just brine the bird ahead of time, then everything comes out perfect.
So let’s talk about the stuffing. I will say, from the beginning, there is nothing wrong with store bought, pre-packaged stuffing. It has a familiar flavor, is easy to make, and makes a stuffed bird a little easier. Making cooking and dinner easy and delicious is the bottom line. But should you choose to make something a little extra special, a little over the top, with that blow-you-away effect, you may be interested in this.
My stuffing (or dressing) is not exceptionally complicated, and like many of my other recipes, involves a few concrete steps, paying very close attention to technique and flavor. Multiple steps mean flavor layering, which develops an incredible dynamic final product. I make croutons from good bread (when motivated I make the bread), add the standard aromatics and herbs, and for moisture, very good chicken stock, eggs and cream. That’s the foundation. That’s the basic idea. After that, you can put anything you want in there (some people like cooked crumbled sausage, ground beef, cranberries, some like to use different types of breads, like multi-grain or cornbread).
My Turkey Stuffing
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hr
Makes: stuffing for a large bird, with a little left over
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
3 ribs celery, small dice
1 stick whole, unsalted, organic butter
1 large loaf excellent quality French boule, most crust removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh sage
3 sprigs fresh oregano
about 3 cups excellent quality homemade chicken stock
3 whole organic eggs
1 cup heavy cream
5 chicken livers, soaked in milk
1/2 cup cooking brandy or dry sherry
kosher salt crack black pepper
Heat the oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, toss the bread with a little olive oil and black pepper. Cook in the oven until slightly crispy and dry.
In a small saute pan, saute the chicken livers in olive oil until crispy. Add the brandy or sherry and cook until almost completely dry. Slightly cool the livers and chop them finely.
When the bread is almost done, heat the butter with a little olive oil in a large heavy bottom saute pan. Add the onion and celery and cook, over medium heat, until translucent. Season with salt and pepper and add all the herbs. Add the croutons and cook until everything is well mixed and incorporated. Add the chopped chicken livers and chicken stock. Turn heat to high and cook until stock is absorbed. Remove from heat, mix in cream and eggs and mix well. If too dry, add a little more chicken stock. Season once more with salt and pepper.
The stuffing is now ready. You can either stuff your bird, or place in a well greased shallow baking dish and bake until golden brown and cooked through.
One thing for sure, your meal is going to be good.