Coexistence: what the farmer does with the turkey – until Thanksgiving. – Mike Connolly
Stuffing (or dressing) and gravy is one part of the quintessential Thanksgiving dinner. They are the supporting cast for a fabulous event. There are many variations and they do their jobs well. Other than make our mouths water in anticipation, they bring Thanksgiving dinner to an eventual apex. As Gene Amole of the Rocky Mountain News said, “… a marvelous mosaic of taste and texture.”
Did You Know?
Stuffing goes back as far as the Roman Empire. Recipes found in the De re Coquinaria, a collection found within a cookbook anthology called Apicius that chronicles thousands of Roman recipes.
In England, prior to the 16th century, stuffing was called “farce” (sound familiar…FORCE). “Farce” is based on the French word “farcir” which references the method by which stuffing is inserted into the animal. This is what you are basically doing when you stuff a turkey or if you’re a proctologist (ugh!). I have to give credit when credit is due but the French made the most prolific use of stuffing throughout history. Also Kraft Foods brand, Stove Top, introduced boxed stuffing in 1972 and sells over 60 million boxes every Thanksgiving. That helped a lot too.
Yeah, you can buy the Stove Top or Pepperidge Farms stuffing, the can of Swanson turkey gravy and take the easy way out. They would be acceptable. But then what would I write about?
You can make a fantastic stuffing and gravy.
It’s not as hard as you think and it is well worth your efforts. You can become the family superstar cook! I’ll show you how.
I was e-mailed a very delicious traditional stuffing recipe from Lisa from Richmond Town. It’s a sausage, apple and chestnut stuffing. I had to make it. Yes, I just made the stuffing. My wife thought that I was crazy. I wanted to taste every nuance of the stuffing without the turkey. I do not cook my stuffing in the turkey (especially after what I wrote above!). It is risky, takes longer to cook and I am not a proctologist nor do I play one on TV. I prefer to cook stuffing in a baking dish.
I also have included my favorite gravy recipe. This is a recipe that is handed down from my mother and I modified it…a little. The gravy is made from the remaining juices of the turkey. The gravy is made in the roasting pan of the turkey. This is done when I set the turkey out on the carving board to rest. Please have everything you need for the gravy within arms reach and ready to go. It will be a lot easier.
Traditional Turkey Stuffing by Lisa from Richmond Town
Makes about 12 cups, serves 8 – 10, good for about a 16 lb. turkey
1 lb. sourdough bread or country – style white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 lb. sweet sausage, remove meat from casings
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery stalks, diced
2 large tart apples, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, sliced and chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh thyme chopped or 1Tbsp. of dried thyme
3/4 cup chicken stock (not broth, there is a difference)
1 lb. fresh chestnuts, baked, peeled and coarsely chopped (see below on how to bake and peel)
1/2 fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
2 large eggs, beaten until blended, hold off to the side until needed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread cubes in a large baking pan and bake until lightly golden. Stir once and a while. About 12 minutes. Once the bread is done place in a bowl and set aside. In a large frying pan over medium – high heat cook the sausage until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage and place in the bowl with the bread. Stir.
Add the butter to the sausage dripping in the frying pan, reduce the heat to medium. Once the butter is melted add the onion and celery and saute until tender, about 5 – 8 minutes. add the apple and thyme and saute for another minute. Remove the onion, celery, apple, and thyme to the bowl with the bread.
add the stock to the frying pan and bring to a boil (this called deglazing) scraping up any brown bits. Once again add the stock to the bread in that very large bowl. Mix in the chestnuts and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the beaten egg.
Bake the Stuffing in the Oven.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter, or spray with Pam, a 13 ” by 9″ by 2″ baking dish and spoon the stuffing into it. Cover lightly with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Now uncover the stuffing and bake an additional 30 minutes to crisp the top. Remove and serve!
To bake chestnuts…
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Score an X on the flat side of each chestnut with a sharp knife. BE CAREFUL! Place chestnuts in a large pan. Set them in a single layer and add 1/2 cup of water and bake about 20 minutes. Watch your nuts! LOL! You don’t want to burn them. You know I can gone forever with this childish humor. Remove your nuts from the oven (ouch!) and let them cool slightly.
While the chestnuts are still warm, peel off the shell and the furry skin directly beneath them. If they cool too much the will be difficult to peel.
Baking chestnuts can be done a day or two before the stuffing and stored in the refrigerator.
My Mom’s revised Turkey Gravy
Makes about 3 cups
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, diced to make 1 Tbsp.
1 sprig of fresh thyme, diced to make 1 tsp.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. Wondra flour (or all-purpose flour)
Mix the butter and Wondra flour in a bowl to make a paste. Set aside.
Once the turkey is roasted, removed it from the pan to rest (cover lightly with tin foil). Pour any remaining dripping into a bowl. Let the juices rest a minute to separate. Set aside 2 Tbsp. of the fat (the top layer), discarding the remaining fat only. To do this easily, take a paper towel an lay it down gently on the top of the juices. This will absorb the top layer of fat. Discard the wet fat ridden paper towel. Add the remaining juices back into the roasting pan and the remaining 2 Tbsp. of fat. Set the pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Cook until the shallot is tender, about 3 minutes. Do not burn.
Now add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Now carefully whisk in the butter/flour mixture. Boil until the gravy thickens, about 4 minutes. Season to taste. Discard the garlic and bay leaf. Serve and watch your family and friends enjoy your efforts.
Thanks for reading. Please send me any of your recipes or suggestions.
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