Monday, December 29, 2008

Bread Stuffing for Turkey

You might call it "dressing", but this dish is definitely stuffed into, as well as cooked in the turkey, so I can only call it stuffing. It's basically Mom's recipe with the exception of the sake and sage. How did Japanese rice wine get into the recipe? By accident...I was out of broth and the stuffing was still too dry so I had to improvise. It added a nice nutty flavor so it became my secret ingredient...the one I tell everyone about! I must note that the idea of adding extra liver came from my sister and it was a very good idea. Still this is a traditional stuffing and I look forward to some more improvisation in the future.

I've read quite a few points of view on the "dangers" of cooking a turkey with stuffing and I have to say I believe people are going overboard on the safely issues. If your stuffing is room temperature, your bird is well defrosted and you're willing to cook it for 10 minutes per pound instead of 8 minutes, you'll live to tell the tale of your wonderful meal.

1 large yellow onion
3 ribs celery
2 cans whole peeled water chestnuts
8 large sage leaves
1/2 pound brown Crimini mushrooms
turkey heart, liver and giblets
chicken or duck livers to equal the turkey liver in size
1 16 oz. commercial dressing mix
1C chicken broth
1C sake
2 large eggs
1-2T extra virgin olive oil

After dicing the onion and thinly slicing the celery, saute them over a medium heat until they start cooking and are no longer crisp. Mince the sage and add to the saute pan, then dice the water chestnuts and add to the pan stirring them all together. Shut off the stove at this point.
Start mincing the turkey parts that comprise the heart, liver and gizzard (scrape off the silver skin from the gizzards). These add a nice texture and rich flavor to the stuffing. I usually add more liver to equal the amount of meat produced by the turkey parts just minced. Either chicken or duck will do if you cannot buy more turkey liver. Now move over the vegetables, bring the heat back on and saute the parts until they are mostly cooked. When the red, raw meat look is gone, add the mushrooms that have been either thinly sliced or diced and continue to saute until they have lost moisture and are cooked.
Add the bread cubes to the pot and stir into the other ingredients. This should be fairly dry so add the cup of chicken broth (if using a can of broth, reserve the excess for use in your gravy if you need to extend it or thin it out). the stuffing should still be dry so add the sake, a little at a time until you have the moisture level you prefer. Add 2 large or extra large eggs and stir thoroughly.
Notes: I normally use commercially produced, seasoned stuffing mix, but plan on trying my next stuffing with cubed Pugliese bread instead. In that case I might add poultry seasoning to the recipe. This time I used a mix that had white and wheat bread in it. I believe the wheat adds a sweetness that would preclude me from using it in the future.

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