Thursday, December 16, 2010

L’s Deliciously Classic Stuffing with a Smitten Surprise

My “little” sister (as I call her, because she’s petite like a beautiful ballerina even though I’m actually the youngest) volunteered to help with the stuffing this Thanksgiving.  L used to do almost all the wow factor cooking at home, one exceptional favorite of mine is her samosas from the Moosewood Cookbook.  She is extremely patient and detail oriented in the kitchen, whereas I prefer to tackle a bazillion enormous tasks as fast as I can in the messiest manner possible.  I have been called, on more than one occasion, a tornado in the kitchen…L isn’t like that.  But now that she has a 1 year old adorable little boy to attend to she doesn’t have quite the same amount of time to spend crafting culinary confections.  But she made perfectly moist, chewy, crunchy and yummmmmy stuffing.  We took a simple and stunning idea I saw on Smitten Kitchen and popped the stuffing inside these cute little onion cups to serve.  They were purple, white, and striking on the Thanksgiving table.  I love them and they added great flavor to the yummy stuffing inside. 

If you read my turkey post you know that the name of this side dish is a bit of a misnomer because it wasn’t ever stuffed into anything (aside from the onion cups in the end that is!).  I don’t stuff turkeys or chickens with anything I’m going to eat afterwards. Salmanella.  The whole concept kind of grosses me out, it cooks in the raw blood and poultry juices, eww.  I think it’s from my years as a vegetarian, but also it is safer to make your stuffing out of the bird because its so much easier to control the taste and cooking time.  This method really didn’t take much extra time, the insides of the onions were used in the stuffing and I was very pleased with the results.  We had lots of extra stuffing too, which is perfect for leftovers.

Recipe for Stuffing:


½ loaf of white bread chopped into 1 in. cubes
½ loaf wheat bread chopped into 1 in. cubes
½ lb. butter
6 hollowed out small onions, 3 red and 3 white (more on this to follow)
4 stalks of celery
1 cup chicken broth
1 bullion cube
½ cup chopped almonds (or whatever nuts you have around) 

Cut the bread into cubes and if the bread is very moist let them dry out or toast them for just 5 minutes in a hot oven (400°F).  Meantime hollow out the onions.  The best way to do this is to use a melon baller or small spoon.  Cut a ½ inch thick slice off the top of the onions and just a bit from the bottom to help them stand upright.  The onion will come out easily, but be sure to leave the last layer (or if your nervous, last two layers) intact.  Don’t be nervous of accidentally breaking through the bottom of the onion, it doesn’t matter.  Put the hollowed out onions in a baking dish and fill with about ½ cup of water.  Bake at 425°F for 25 minutes and then allow them to rest.

Meantime, melt the butter in a large pot and cook the onions and celery over medium heat until they caramlize and soften.  Season with the boulion cube, salt and pepper.  Add in the bread cubes, nuts and the chicken broth, pouring just a bit at time to make sure the mixture doesn’t get too wet.

Fill the onions with stuffing (throw off the water from before) and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.  Just put the extra stuffing in a baking dish and bake that along with the stuffed onions.  Choose the size of the baking dish depending on how crunchy or moist you like your stuffing (shallower pan will make more crunchy stuffing)


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