Friday, December 04, 2009

Feed Me Fridays: Stuff It

For years, I have relied on a fail safe stuffing recipe that was given to me by a complete, random stranger at the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, TX in order to diffuse a very heated argument between me and my companion. It's served me well over the years and seeing as I make stuffing - oh well, once a year, occasionally twice - I've never seen the need to really experiment.

But this year, in an attempt to live out my grand Thanksgiving fantasy I decided that no recipe would be recycled (except for my cranberries because OMG they are perfect and in all the years I've been making them no one but me ever eats them so I felt like they had never really been eaten and therefore previous makings didn't count and in some ways, they were virginal). Which meant I had to rethink the stuffing.

It came to me in a moment of genius. It was like divine intervention. Or an endorphin-induced epiphany. Or the right combination of chicken wings and cheap wine. I'm not really sure. But there it was: Rye Bread Stuffing with Salami, Apples and Leeks.

I know - who comes up with this?

Truth be told - I sort of stuck to the basic stuffing formula (mirepoix, good bread, and something for OOMPH) and just made some tweaks. Here's the ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS result. (Of course, in the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that the actual recipe is sitting in my kitchen and I am sitting in a hotel lobby in a different state so...I may be off...if you're really interested in exact quantities and crap like that - feel free to email me or DM me on Twitter and I'll get you the specifics).

Here's what you'll need:

For the bread - I opted for rye. I believe it was a 1.5 pound loaf. Anywhere from 1 - 1.5 pounds should work. I normally use sourdough and dad kind of bitched moaned a bit because he prefers sourdough to rye but I was determined. To. Be. Different. See the pretty rye bread?

The trick to my fabulous stuffing is copious quantities of butter and pre-buttering and pre-seasoning the bread. You want to butter as much surface area as possible so you want to slice the loaf crosswise into thirds or fourths like so:

Then you want to butter and season the bread. I used about a stick and half of unsalted butter. You want it soft and spreadable. Bung it in the microwave for a few seconds if you have to. Take each slice, liberally butter it, and then season it. I think on half I used Cajun seasoning (like Essence of Emeril or Tony Chachere's) and on half I used Vege-Sal. Trust me when I say this is the secret to stuffing.

It's a messy process. But if you love butter (as I do) then you won't mind. You know what else helps? To have an adorable puppy licking the floor beneath your feet hoping for scraps. Like this:

Cube your buttered and seasoned bread. Toss it all in a giant bowl and then lick your fingers. You've totally earned it:

Time for mirepoix also known as the holy trinity of vegetables: celery, carrots and onion. Only - I don't use carrots, I use garlic so I guess it's not really mirepoix. And for the onions, I used leeks just because you know, I could. Anyways, in a large pot in a mixture of butter and olive oil saute 2 leeks - stems only (not the dark green tops and by the way leeks are dirty and gritty so clean them well), 3 - 4 ribs of celery (diced) and 3 giant spoonfuls of chopped garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until tender and fragrant (oh I could so be a cookbook writer with shit like that):

Then add the salami. I used 1 12-oz. Hebrew National salami cut into fine dice. See how pretty?

Then add the apples. I cut up 2 Honeycrisps in a rather large dice. Cook it all until - you know - it seems cooked. Then add the bread and stock. I needed 3 cups of stock total. I used 2 cups of veggie stock because it happened to be open and then I added 1 more cup of chicken stock. You can use veggie or chicken or a combo - I'd stay away from beef stock. Just a suggestion.

Let the butter-laden bread absorb the stock and get kind of soft and mushy and stuffingy and then turn off the heat.

Add 1/2 a cup of grated Parmesan and stir it in. Actually - this is optional. I am not sure Parm was the right cheese - or that the stuffing even needed cheese but I love cheese and we had overbought on the Parm and the Pecorino so....

Last step? Season to taste.

Pour the whole mess into a pan and bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes until it smells heavenly and OMG you want to eat it right out of the pan and burn your mouth because YUM - sorta like this:

Stuffing is awesome day of but it's even better day after. And for the record, my breakfast of choice the day after Thanksgiving (and frankly the true breakfast of champions) is a giant bowl of stuffing. Seriously - there's nothing better.

So yeah - stuff it kids. MWAH Sugars!!!


AndreAnna said...

OMG, that looks so good.

I vote our next TwitHER is at your place in the spring where you can cook for me!

Heather@WHMB said...

Hmm, I don't like stuffing. Ever. I don't know why it's just the weird thing in my family - no one eats it. Your recipe, however, does show off your culinary skills - I'm sure many folks will enjoy. :)

debb said...

I love my mom's stuffing and it is cornbread based. Truly Southern cooking at its finest.

One day, I really must get her recipe.

Nenette AM said...

Oh, a woman after my own heart! I ALWAYS use garlic in my mirepoix, usually in place of the celery, because I think celery is the vegetable of evil.
And yay for leeks! I love using it in place of regular yellow onions.

And of course, it's always better with butter! Mmmm... butter...

Does stuffing mail well?... Just askin'... :)