November – Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing

November – Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing

I briefly considered calling this Ma Barnes’ stuffing, the last remnant of a brief first marriage at the tender age of 21. The original recipe came from my ex mother-in-law. She was from Wisconsin and her stuffing had a definite midwestern, no-nonsense appeal.  In my own hands it has undergone many variations, especially once I moved to the west coast. But, you can still detect the bones of that first recipe in this one. Some of my adaptations have been more successful than others…chestnuts added (couldn’t really detect them), walnuts (nice crunch but not needed), artichoke hearts (that was an interesting year, kids weren’t crazy about them), Italian sausage (spicy, non-spicy, chicken – all delicious), no sausage (vegetarian version), olive oil instead of butter, currents instead of raisins, and lastly the addition of cornbread. I think you get the idea. I am going to give you the most current iteration, the one that finally stuck. However feel free to adapt it to match your families taste.

The addition of cornbread was what elevated this recipe to a new high. Ma Barnes used crumbled hamburger or hot dog rolls and poultry seasoning, I did the same for the first few years. It was good. But, magic happened the first time I added cornbread and herbs de Provence. It went from simply good to “Oh my!” and “Can I have thirds?”. Now I use about half  torn stale brioche or ciabatta bread and half cornbread. The cornbread gives additional texture and depth of flavor. In my family the holiday meals are all about the stuffing and/or dressing. I have to make enough to last for several days; it’s the first thing that they look for when they open the refrigerator the morning after Thanksgiving. This dressing is the heart of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner…forget the turkey.

I am using the terms stuffing and dressing interchangeably. But technically it is called stuffing if stuffed inside your turkey or other bird, and dressing if cooked outside the bird in a casserole. I started out cooking it only as a stuffing, but there was not enough copious leftovers. Now I either do both, or cook it entirely as a dressing. It is good both ways. And it is excellent reheated with a poached or fried egg on top, makes an excellent sandwich with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, and an over the top panini with cheese and turkey.

Speaking of turkey, this is the year I have discovered sous-vide. Stay tuned for sous vide turkey. But that is a discussion for another post, probably after Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas. Aren’t you impressed by all the bloggers who cook a full holiday dinner weeks before the actual event so they can write and photograph a holiday dinner? I sure am. I admit to being more of a ‘just in time’ blogger, or even ‘after the fact’ blogger. I will only be way ahead of the game for 2018!

If you are a regular reader, you might notice that this is not the first time you have seen this recipe. It was first posted it in January of 2015 under the heading of Friday Chicken. I think it would be difficult for you to find, and it deserves a post all of its own. Check out the link above to the Friday Chicken post if you have time. It is a great trick (borrowed from Richard Olney and Vincent Price) to stuff a chicken under the skin before roasting. I have done the same with a turkey, however the longer cooking time means that the skin can easily burn. You do get an extremely flavorful bird, but you have to watch it very carefully.

You can buy prepared cornbread from a bakery or grocery store (try not to use one that is very sweet). Or, you can make your own. This year I am using a recipe from the frugal hausfrau for Southern Skillet Cornbread. You will need about half a recipe for the stuffing; save the rest for serving with a bowl of chili or soup Yum! I am not going to reprint her recipe. You can follow the link to see Mollie’s post. I did change one thing, because I was going to use it in the dressing, I substituted 1/4 cup butter instead of the drippings or vegetable oil called for in her recipe. Wouldn’t bacon fat be wonderful? Oh my! But this doesn’t need it because you already have the sausage. I think it would be over kill.

Take a look at this cornbread…

Southern Skillet Cornbread from the frugal hausfrau

If short on time you can always use a boxed cornbread mix, they aren’t half bad. Your stuffing will still be delicious.

Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 small handfuls of golden raisins or currents
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of turkey or chicken stock if baked outside the bird

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
  3. Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into 3/4 inch pieces in a large bowl, you don’t want them too small.
  6. Add the raisins and mix.
  7. When cooked and while still warm, add the contents of the skillet to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for salt, you want it well seasoned.
  8. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl. Ma Barnes would add as much as a full stick of butter at this point.
  9. Cover and bake immediately as per numbers 10 and 11 below, or set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and out of reach of the dogs. Once cool you can refrigerate it for a day. Keep your last minute stress level down and prepare it the day before the holiday.
  10. If using as a dressing: When ready to bake as a dressing (outside the bird), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the stuffing in a shallow casserole dish and add the stock. You want the bread to be moist but not swimming. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to 425 degrees F and crisp the top. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn although those charred crispy bits are my favorite.
  11. If using as a stuffing: When ready to cook your turkey, heat the stuffing in the microwave until very hot. Using clean rubber gloves, stuff the turkey inside both the body and neck cavity. Truss and bake immediately. The hot dressing ensures food safety, you will also find that your turkey will also need less time in the oven. Be sure to check the doneness frequently with an instant read thermometer.

Sausage, onions and celery with seasonings sauteed in butter

Cornbread, Brioche and Raisins combined in a large bowl

Ready to bake or stuff into turkey, wet ingredients added to the dry

Finished baked Dressing

Moist on the middle but crisp on the top, it was delicious.

I baked this in the afternoon to post, took some photos, and went out to dinner with a couple of friends. The dressing was left on the stove to cool.

This is what was left when I arrived home a few hours later…

Demolished

It wasn’t the dogs either.

Enough said, I don’t think you can have a better recommendation. I think I need to make a quadruple batch for the holiday meal.

I am co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday, #198. It’s always fun to have several stuffings/dressings to choose from and I think this one will be a hit. Come see all the delicious offerings at this week’s party by clicking on the FF link, it will take you to our host, Angie’s. My cohost this week is Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com. Her sausage gravy will go well with my offering.

November – Perfect Roast Potatoes for Thanksgiving

November – Perfect Roast Potatoes for Thanksgiving

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Is it the pies? Or stuffing? Or mashed potatoes? What about sweet potato casserole? Growing up my favorites were the stuffing (sausage and sage), and these roast potatoes. My English mother was famous for her roast potatoes, crisp and brown on the outside and floury on the inside. I know that mashed potatoes are the classic side to turkey here in the US, but I strongly suggest you try these. They are also a fantastic side for roast chicken or vegetables, or a replacement for french fries. My family prefers these to french fries and claim they are as good with ketchup as gravy.

I am going to share a few of secrets to success. First pre-boil the potatoes, second rough them up a bit before roasting, and third use a pre-heated roasting pan. Those three tips will ensure that crisp outside and fluffy inside.

You only need three ingredients:

  • Russet potatoes or baking potatoes – 1 for each person
  • Some kind of oil or fat, olive oil is good, duck fat is fantastic (sad to say, my mother used Crisco)
  • Good salt, sea or kosher

Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut each into 6 wedges. I cut them in half lengthwise, then each half crosswise into 3 sections. You want fairly large pieces.
  2. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cool water by about an inch, add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat, turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Immediately drain into a mesh screen colander in the sink.
  5. Cool slightly, then shake the colander to “rough” up the potatoes. You want the surface of the potatoes scratched. See the pictures below. This helps them crisp.
  6. Potatoes, boiled and roughed

    Potatoes, boiled and roughed

    Potatoes, ready for roasting

    Potatoes, ready for roasting

     

  7. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  8. Oil a large baking or roasting pan and place it in the oven to preheat. You want the entire bottom of the pan to be coated with cooking oil. The pan should be large enough so that the potatoes are not crowded. I usually use olive oil, but this time I had found a treat.

    Duck Fat

    Duck Fat

  9. Once the pan is nice and hot, carefully remove it from the oven. Add the potatoes, turning them to coast with the oil or fat. Spread them out in the pan. Sprinkle with salt.
  10. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the potatoes after 30 minutes.
    Roasted potatoes in the pan

    Roasted potatoes in the pan

    Crispy oven roast potatoes

    Crispy oven roast potatoes

    We usually don’t have any leftover, but they are good for breakfast the next day with eggs. Reheat them in your oven on low heat (not the microwave).

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

I don’t think summer is the season for fancy cooking. It is the time for salads of all kinds, melon and prosciutto, yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, juicy sliced tomatoes, BBQ, veggies on the grill, and chilled wine. The spotlight should be on highlighting the glory of the best local and seasonal ingredients, cooked (or not cooked) with a few fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

That being said, sometimes the food needs a little embellishing. Maybe you are expecting company or it is a special holiday weekend. I want to introduce the idea of a fruit salsa to go with those amazing grilled dishes. We are all familiar with a tomato based salsa but peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and mangos all make excellent salsas. If you live in Hawaii or the tropics, pineapples are also a good choice (I don’t think they are worth eating elsewhere…sorry Dole).

fruit salsa

fruit salsa

Use whatever is freshest and perfectly ripe but not mushy. This is a very loose recipe but I will give some general directions. I think the essentials are sweet, crisp, spicy heat, sharpness, acid, and salt. In the salsa shown above the peaches provide sweet, the cucumber is crisp, the chilis are heat, the onion sharp, and lime juice acid.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fruit, cut into cubes – I used 4 peaches
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary and cubed to the same size
  • 1 – 2 hot chilis – seeded and cut into small cubes, I used 1 jalapeno and 1 small red chili
  • 1/2 red onion – chopped finely
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt to taste

Again this is a very flexible list. If you have a ripe avocado, add it. What about a mix of fruit? Watermelon with tomatoes is a winner. Apples would be good in the fall. Have some fresh basil on hand? Wonderful! Cilantro? Yum! Mint? Oh my! See what I mean?

Notice that there is no oil in this salsa? None is needed. It is a good way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables deliciously without any additional fat.

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

December – Traditional Sausage and Raisin Stuffing

December – Traditional Sausage and Raisin Stuffing

I thought I would repost this recipe from last January in time for Christmas. It’s the traditional stuffing we serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. You can bake it in the bird as a stuffing, place it under the skin (see the pictures below), or bake it in the oven as a casserole (then it becomes technically a dressing).

Click on the link to Friday Chicken for directions on stuffing your chicken under the skin. As you can see from the picture below it results in wonderful crisp skin plus an amazingly moist and well flavored chicken!

Traditional Sausage and Raisin Stuffing or Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 handfuls of raisins (golden or dark) or currents
Stuffing

Sausage and Raisin Stuffing

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
  3. Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into pieces in a large bowl.
  6. Add the raisins and mix.
  7. When cooked, add the contents of the skillet and mix well.
  8. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl.
  9. Cover and set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and the reach of the dogs.
Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken After Roasting

Baked Dressing

  1. Put the remaining stuffing (not used in the bird or under the skin) into a baking dish, add about ¾ cup of chicken stock and cover the dish with foil.
  2. When the chicken has baked for 35 minutes, add the stuffing to the oven.
  3. Bake covered for 25 minutes, then uncover until the top has browned and is crisp.
  4. Serve with the chicken.
Raisin Stuffing

Baked Stuffing with Sausage and Raisins

This stuffing is exceptional. Over the years I’ve changed it to reflect the changing tastes of my family and friends. The original “seed” recipe came from my (now ex) mother-in-law in Wisconsin. She used hamburger rolls, poultry seasoning, margarine, and raisins. The raisins have remained as a crucial part of the recipe.

Use any leftover stuffing in sandwiches, in a strata, in a waffle, as a “bed” for poached eggs, or in a bread soup (the cornbread and brioche will thicken the broth beautifully). It is worth the time to make this stuffing simply for the leftovers!

Panini with stuffing

Stuffing Panini

The panini above was made with raisin stuffing (regular dark raisins), cranberry sauce, red onions, and mozzarella.

 

 

December – Leftover Stuffing Strata

December – Leftover Stuffing Strata

Leftovers, I just love them. Here is a way to repurpose any leftover stuffing from Christmas. Any type will work although you might want to alter the type of cheese. I used goat cheese, parmesan would also be good. Toss in leftover greens to up the nutritional value.

I used leftovers from Kale and Caramelized Onion Stuffing in this strata but it would also have been delicious using my standard Sausage with Raisin Stuffing.

Leftover Stuffing Strata

  • Leftover stuffing – I had about 4 cups
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups half-and-half (or a mixture of cream and milk to make 2 cups)
  • 4 oz of soft goats cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Liberally butter a 2 quart baking dish
  3. In a large bowl combine the stuffing, eggs, milky mixture, and crumbled goats cheese
  4. Pour into the prepared baking dish and let sit for at least 20 minutes to overnight
    Leftover Stuffing Strata

    Leftover Stuffing Strata

    Stuffing Strata

    Stuffing Strata

  5. Bake until the custard is set, this took about 55 minutes. If it was refrigerated, allow a few more minutes baking time.
  6. Let sit for 10 minutes once cooked before serving.

    Leftover Stuffing Strata

    Leftover Stuffing Strata

If you have more or less stuffing, adjust the components. It should be 1 egg and 1/2 cup of milk to each cup of stuffing.

Leftover Stuffing Strata

Leftover Stuffing Strata

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday #98, folks are thinking about their Christmas menu, better plan for leftovers. There are two new co-hosts to assist Angie from the Novice GardenerSadhna @ Herbs, Spices and Traditions and Natalie @ Kitchen, uncorked.

December – Kale and Caramelized Onion Stuffing

December – Kale and Caramelized Onion Stuffing

This recipe for kale and caramelized onion stuffing (or more accurately dressing since it is not inside the bird) came by way of the blog The Smitten KitchenI have modified it only slightly because the original called for the use of butter and I like the touch of sweet added by the raisins. I needed a dish that would appeal to both vegans and vegetarians, thus made some simple substitutions. It was delicious and everyone enjoyed it, non vegetarians and vegans alike. Two of the best things? The leftovers! The leftover croutons I didn’t use in the stuffing were absolutely amazing sprinkled over a hot bowl of tomato soup the next day. Because of being hand torn instead of cut, they had lots of crispy and crusty edges to add texture. Any leftover stuffing can be made into a wonderful breakfast strata combined with goat cheese, milk and eggs.

I don’t have any pictures of the stuffing. I took this dish to a large Thanksgiving party. I couldn’t shout out “stop everything, I need to take some pictures”! My family is used to me doing that, they only role their eyes and hit pause. But, I would not have won any popularity contests with the 18 people standing in the buffet line.  Do any of the rest of you ever have this problem?

I do have pictures of the strata made with the leftovers.

I’m going to post the recipe for the kale and caramelized onion stuffing with my modifications, click on the Smitten Kitchen link above to see the original.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Stuffing 

Serves 8

  • 1-1/4 pound loaf of sourdough or dense country style bread, crusts removed.
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan butter substitute or more oil, divided (butter if not serving vegans)
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into half moons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
  • 1 pound of curly kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves chopped into large chunks.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice the crusts off the bread (save, dry them and use for breadcrumbs) and tear the loaf into pieces roughly 1 inch in size. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to mix. Spread on a large rimmed baking dish and toast until golden brown and crisp but still a little tender on the inside. This took about 20 minutes and I turned them half way through. When cooked, cool slightly and pour into a large bowl.
  3. While the bread is toasting, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat with oil and cover the pan. Cook undisturbed on the lowest heat possible for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium/medium high, add sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook the onions, stirring frequently for another 15 to 20 minutes until deep golden brown. Add 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and use it to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning and remove the onions to the bowl with the croutons.
  5. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan and heat the garlic for 30 seconds, add the kale. Coat the kale with oil, then add 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Cook kale until wilted and somewhat tender (this will take 5-6 minutes). Add the sherry to the pan and cook until it almost all evaporates. Taste and season with the chili flakes, salt and pepper.  Add remaining broth and bring to a simmer.
  6. Pour the kale mixture over the croutons and onions. Toss to combine. Add the raisins and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour into a 3-quart casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 20 until the top is crisp and golden brown.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday #98, folks are thinking about their Christmas menu. There are two new co-hosts to assist Angie from the Novice GardenerSadhna @ Herbs, Spices and Traditions and Natalie @ Kitchen, uncorked.

Leftover Stuffing Strata

  • Leftover stuffing – I had about 4 cups
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups half-and-half (or a mixture of cream and milk to make 2 cups)
  • 4 oz of soft goats cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Liberally butter a 2 quart baking dish
  3. In a large bowl combine the stuffing, eggs, milky mixture, and crumbled goats cheese
  4. Pour into the prepared baking dish and let sit for at least 20 minutes to overnight

    Stuffing Strata

    Stuffing Strata

  5. Bake until the custard is set, this took about 55 minutes. If it was refrigerated, allow a few more minutes baking time.
  6. Let sit for 10 minutes once cooked before serving.

    Leftover Stuffing Strata

    Leftover Stuffing Strata

If you have more or less stuffing, adjust the components. It should be 1 egg and 1/2 cup of milk to each cup of stuffing.

November – Dry Fried Green Beans

November – Dry Fried Green Beans

One of my favorite dishes on the menu of a Chinese restaurant is also one of the most ubiquitous, Schezwan green beans. In my opinion, Wild Ginger in Seattle makes the very best version, at least the best I have ever eaten. There is a recipe floating out somewhere on the internet and I have made it in the past to rave reviews, but it has a large list of ingredients including minced pork. I have been looking for a version which can be cooked quickly mid-week and is vegetarian. I found it in the cookbook Lucky Peach presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes, the same book which contains my Yum sauce.

This recipe is easy, quick, nutritious, and delicious. I found all the ingredients in my pantry. Sambal oelek is a ground chili paste, substitute chili flakes if you don’t have it. The recipe calls for a wok but I used a large skillet and it worked out fine. Don’t use one that is non-stick because you have to fry the beans at a high temperature.

Sambal oelek

Sambal oelek

Dry-Fried Green Beans

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (I used grape seed oil, you need one that can handle high temperatures)
  • 1 pound of green beans, trimmed but left whole
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup of chopped scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sambal oelek or Sambal (or 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Leave it in the pan until it starts to smoke.
  2. Add the green beans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel and turn brown (see photo below), this will take about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

    Dry-Fried Green Beans

    Dry-Fried Green Beans

  3. Turn the heat to high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions. Stir fry for a few seconds, then add the sambal or chili flakes. Add the green beans, soy sauce and sugar to the hot pan. Toss until the beans are coated with the sauce and heated.
  4. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.
Dry-Fried Green Beans

Dry-Fried Green Beans

Delicious!