Thanksgiving Stuffing!

Simple Stuffing with Apples, Raisins, and Walnuts

November 2007, pg. 100

I almost forgot to take a picture...Oops

I almost forgot to take a picture…Oops

Simple Stuffing Recipe

After vegetables have softened in step 2, stir in 2 apples (such as Gala or Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch pieces, ½ cup of raisins, and ½ cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Cook until apples start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and continue.

*adapted from Everyday Food, Issue #47, pg. 101

This year, P and I went to his parents’ for Thanksgiving and his mom asked if we would bring the stuffing. I told her that would be perfect since I needed to make the apple and raisin version of the simple stuffing recipe for the blog. Before making the stuffing I showed P the recipe and he requested that I also add walnuts, so I did. We also brought homemade double-vanilla ice cream, blueberry scones, and homemade bread.

The night before Thanksgiving I just wanted to relax after a full day of baking the other items we would be contributing to the holiday weekend. I convinced myself to get up early the next morning and make the stuffing. I woke up at 7 am Thanksgiving Day giving myself 2 hours to shower, make the stuffing, eat breakfast, and pack the car. It took us 3 hours to get all of our chores done. Maybe next time I will take the advice given at the beginning of the recipe and make the stuffing the night before, so we can leave on time. But there were no worries of showing up late for dinner just missing out on playtime with our nieces.

The stuffing was very easy to make, it just took some time with all of the chopping. I must admit that I did roast the bread a few days before, eliminating that step the morning of. I chose to put two Gala apples in the stuffing and a cheap Chardonnay for the called Chard. It was definitely a cooking wine and not drinking wine. We had a glass later that night and decided the rest of the bottle would be used to cook with and not drink. I also used our own chicken stock instead of canned chicken broth. I honestly didn’t measure the amount required to saturate the bread but seemed to be less than the 29 ounces the recipe called for. I put the stuffing in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish that was buttered and I covered it with buttered aluminum foil. NOTHING went inside our turkey.

The simple stuffing with apples, raisins, and walnuts was a hit! We had way too much food at our Thanksgiving table but everyone tried the stuffing and some even went back for seconds. The following day we had leftovers for lunch and the stuffing disappeared. Another success!

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Food, Glorious Food!!

Well, I told you I would be back with an epic post concerning my Thanksgiving Dinner.  I think the best way to get started is to just show you the splendor.

Food, glorious food! What wouldn't we give for that extra bit more -- That's all that we live for. Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food, wonderful food, marvellous food, fabulous food, beautiful food, glorious food!

Food, glorious food! What wouldn’t we give for that extra bit more — That’s all that we live for. Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food, wonderful food, marvellous food, fabulous food, beautiful food, glorious food!

Now, here’s the menu:

Herb-Rubbed Turkey

Simple Stuffing with Mushrooms and Sage

White Wine Gravy

Cranberry-Ginger Relish

Roasted Harvest Vegetables

Green Bean, Watercress and Crispy Shallot Salad

Lovely Mashed Potatoes (contribution of my neighbor)

And to top it all off:

Apple Crumb Pie

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Yes, I made two desserts to feed a total of four people. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Yes, I made two desserts to feed a total of four people. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

My day started out pretty early, getting the stuffing ready to go.  To make the mushroom and sage variation you add 1 lb of mushrooms (I used cremini) and 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage after you have softened the vegetables in step 1 of the Simple Stuffing recipe. After the mushrooms have released their liquid you continue with the recipe by adding in the white wine. I thought the stuffing turned out pretty well, although in the future I think I would try to cut up the bread into slightly smaller pieces.  It didn’t all congeal together exactly as I expected and I am fairly certain it was user error.

Once the stuffing was made, I did actually stuff the turkey.  Let me first say, I took the turkey out of the freezer on Saturday and the damn thing was still frozen solid on Wednesday morning.  I spent a good part of the day running cool water over it to let it thaw out safely.  Luckily, come Thursday morning it was in good shape to get stuffed!

The herb rub for the turkey is also very simple.  You just gently lift the skin from the breast and spread the mix of three herbs, salt and pepper under there and rub it into the meat a bit.  Now, by some small miracle, this turkey decided to keep all of its moisture inside itself.  The recipe indicates that you are supposed to start basting after an hour in the oven.  There were literally no drippings after one hour.  I waited for an hour and a half, still nearly no drippings.  I was getting scared for my gravy at this point so I added about half a box of chicken stock to the pan so I could do a little basting.  When the turkey came out, it was beautiful.

Just look at that crispy skin!

Just look at that crispy skin!

The intensely dark stuff under the skin is the herb rub.  And yes, the turkey had still refused to give up its juice when I finally took it out of the oven.  I technically even overcooked it because the breast was at nearly 190 degs when I pulled it out.  Like I said, total miracle.  That was one super juicy turkey.  I let it rest for around 45 minutes before we cut into it, but it was completely perfect. The herb rub under the crispy skin was so savory.

My step-dad doing the honors.

My step-dad doing the honors.

For the most part, the sides were all fairly healthy.  The roasted harvest vegetables were delicious but also light.  The garlic that was roasted with it really flavored everything thoroughly.

And they were a totally beautiful color.

And they were a totally beautiful color.

The green bean, watercress and crispy shallot salad might be my new favorite thing.  I’ve told you I love shallots.  I will just add to that love now by saying that crispy fried shallots cannot be beat.  They taste just like those french fried onions that you put on top of green bean salad but you have the extra satisfaction of making them that delicious yourself.  And the lemon-mustard vinaigrette is incredible.

I wish I had some show tune lyrics specific to shallots...

I wish I had some show tune lyrics specific to shallots…

The gravy was also awesome.  I love adding white wine to my gravy.  The one thing I refused to follow in the recipe was the instruction to add water.  I would never ever want to thin all that flavor.  Especially when I struggled so to get any drippings to make my gravy with in the first place.

And I normally am very strict about eating only cranberry orange relish made in a food processor.  It’s what I grew up with.  It’s delicious. I was brave.  I tried something new (even though I was contemplating making both relish options for most of the week…).  It was worth it.  I love ginger.  I love cranberry.  It all went really well together. It was super yummy and even more so when it was mixed in with all the gravy and potatoes and turkey.

This also had an awesome color.  Like a jam full of rubies. Delicious soft rubies.

This also had an awesome color. Like a jam full of rubies. Delicious soft rubies.

Yes, I will make it again.

And now, on to the dessert.  The pie was super tasty.  I had a slight mishap.  Either my pie crust was not big enough, my pie plate was too deep, or the recipe was way off when it called for 4 lbs of granny smith apples.  It definitely didn’t all fit.  I had to put probably half a pound in another dish to bake on its own and I also had to make a little more of the crumb topping to make sure I could cover the whole thing.  I also had to add a little nutmeg, because… I had to.  But after all that, it was awesome.  Super fruity and dense and just sweet enough that I didn’t feel guilty chasing it with a piece of cheesecake (it counted as a fruit serving right?).

So very very very chocolatey.

So very very very chocolatey.

This was the first cheesecake I ever made, so it was a bit of an experiment.  Despite following instructions, it cracked anyway, but I just turned it into a ganache canyon.  Yeah.  That’s right.  Ganache canyon.  The texture of this cheesecake is super creamy.  I’m amazed at how perfect the texture was considering it cracked (I assumed that meant it was overcooked).  And the crust managed to taste kind of like a brownie.  So decadent.

So that was my Thanksgiving everyone.  My very first time hosting.  I followed the make ahead instructions in the magazine for just about everything which made the day of pretty easy.  I was cooking for most of the day but at a steady and stress free pace.  I even had the time to post about the lovely Baked Brie with Pecans.

I hope everyone else’s Thanksgiving was as stress free and enjoyable as mine!  Happy Holidays!!!