OK crablings, we're getting down to the wire regarding Thanksgiving prep and I have to get you two more recipes after today, as well as present you with an overall plan. So something has to give. That something is going to be the more involved stories surrounding the recipes.
I know, I know, I feel your pain, but some problems are bigger than our own happiness. I promise, full blown, even over-blown stories will return, but for the next few posts it's strictly business. So let''s go.
Today we're going to prep what has become the official Crabby household stuffing. It has undergone a fairly large number of adjustments over the years. SSSal always wanted to have a more "upscale" stuffing, this idea met with a great deal of resistance, especially when this particular recipe did not initially display the gravy absorptive powers that Crab Nation demanded.
Number one this stuffing is not cooked inside the bird. I have no interest in overcooking the turkey just so I can be assured I've routed any potential salmonella from the stuffing. This is good news. The stuffing can be prepared ahead of time and baked alongside the bird. You get all the crispy goodness and none of the possible Pepto moments.
Number two, this recipe appeared in the November 1998 issue of Bon Apetit. While a good stuffing, it lacked enough bread to act as an adequate gravy transport vehicle, so our recipe now employs a great deal more buttermilk bread.
Finally, I'm told that this recipe could easily be made into a vegetarian friendly side dish by eliminating the bacon and by using vegetable stock. Though why you'd want a vegetarian friendly stuffing served next to roast turkey is beyond me. Anyway, here we go, enjoy...
Leek, Mushroom, Bacon & Buttermilk Bread Stuffing
from Bon Apetit, November, 1998 with many adjustments by SSSal and the Crabby family.
1 1/2 loaves of store bought buttermilk bread (approx 36 ozs. total), crusts trimmed and cut into 1/2 " cubes
1 pound of sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 " pieces
4 TBSP grapeseed oil
5 cups chopped leeks, (white and a small bit of the green parts), approx. 4 large leeks
1 1/2 pounds button mushrooms cleaned and chopped
12 oz. shitake mushrooms cleaned and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 TBSP dried tarragon
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 TBSP butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread cubes onto 2 cookie sheets and bake until dry, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and then transfer to a large bowl.
Saute bacon in a large pot until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off rendered bacon fat.
Add 4 TBSP grapeseed oil to pot and heat over medium-high. When hot but not smoking, add leeks and white button mushrooms; saute until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add shitake mushrooms and saute an additional 5 minutes. Add celery and saute for 5 more minutes.
(Bread, vegetables and bacon can be prepped one day ahead, though they must be stored separately.)
Mix the bacon, vegetables and tarragon into the bowl containing the bread cubes. Season generously with salt & pepper. Mix beaten eggs into stuffing. Add approximately 1 cup of broth to the stuffing mixture and stir well to combine, (Note: you want to just moisten the stuffing, not turn it into a slurry. If you're using more bread then you may need to use more broth).
Return oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 15x10x2 inch baking dish. Add the stuffing to the baking dish in an even layer.
Take a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the baking dish and butter the surface that will come into contact with the stuffing. Cover the stuffing with the foil (butter side down) and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy on top.
Whew! This may seem a little fussy but in actual cooking it's really very simple. The result is a great way to move gravy. How many servings is this? I have no idea! I once watched a teenage male bi-ped consume half the baking dish by himself; I would think that this is enough stuffing for 12 (with very few leftovers).
Next time a vegetable and then the bird itself. I'll be back soon crablings. Just remember, you can do it, you can cook Thanksgiving dinner.