Happy Thanksgiving, readers, one day early!
In the last week or two, we’ve written about Thanksgiving pretty intensely. We shared Cara’s Mom’s Apple Pie, Alex’s Roasted Chicken (which, we pointed out, would make a fine substitute for a turkey if you’re only hosting a few people), Portobello Mushrooms with Parmesan-Herb Stuffing, and Garlic-Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. On Serious Eats, we shared recipes for Farro and Cauliflower Salad with Currants, Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Turkey Picatta.
But we haven’t yet talked about stuffing. At Cara’s, the stuffing is traditionally a chestnut dressing cooking beside the turkey. It’s Cara’s grandma’s recipe, and it gets no updating because it needs none.
At Phoebe’s, on the other hand, the stuffing falls under her domain, and no matter how perfect the stuffing was one year, the next year she gives it a nice big tweak. For 2009′s Thanksgiving, she made a Pumpkin-Leek Stuffing with Turkey Sausage (which Cara had the good fortune to eat, leftover, beneath an olive-oil fried egg). This year, she’s working on something inspired by the above-mentioned roasted chicken, made with good chicken broth, lemon juice and zest, and loads of fresh herbs. We’ll have that recipe up here soon; read below for last year’s version.
We want to know what goes on your Thanksgiving table every year–no question–and what you’re making in 2010 that you’ve never served before. Tell us all about it in the comments.
With that we’re taking a break almost til Monday to cook, eat, and spend time with our families. We’ll be hosting a cool, charitable giveaway on Saturday though–so come check in then, when, perhaps, you’re tired of cooking, eating, and your family.
Happy Turkey Day!
From our kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
3 ½-2lb pumpkins, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
1 stick butter
½ cup of water or stock
2 ½ lbs hot or sweet Italian sausage (I used hot turkey), removed from the casing
3 sweet onions, chopped
3 fennel bulbs, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
¼ cup dry white wine
4 loaves ciabatta, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup sage leaves, coarsely chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the pumpkin with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous amount of salt on several rimmed cookie sheets. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, redistributing occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown. Remove and set aside in a large casserole (what you will use for the whole stuffing).
In a large Dutch oven or casserole, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for 5-10 minutes until the butter is incorporated and they begin to wilt. Add the water or stock, turn the flame to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook slowly until the leeks are completely soft and beginning to turn to mush. Take the lid off and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and add to the pumpkin mixture.
In the same pot or pan, add a little olive oil, turn the heat to high, and brown the sausage. Break it apart with your spatula as you go so the sausage crumbled into very small chunks. When properly browned, add to the pumpkin-leek mixture.
Add the onion, fennel, and thyme to the pot and sauté for 10 minutes, making sure to scrape up any brown bits from the sausage. When tender, but not caramelized, add the white wine and season with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are very tender and the alcohol in the wine has burned off. Add to the pumpkin-leek mixture.
NOTE: everything up to this point can be done 1-2 days before.
The day of, combine the garlic and sage with ½ cup of olive oil. Heat in the microwave until the oil is fragrant and infused, about 1-2 minutes. Toss the cubed ciabatta with the oil and a generous amount of salt and turn out onto several rimmed cookie sheets. Toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes—until the bread is crisp, but not completely browned.
Toss the bread together with the vegetable mixture, the eggs, stock, and parsley. Make sure it is well combined, and add any stock as necessary to make sure the bread is moist. Let stand for at least an hour so the flavors absorb. Then return to the oven and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the top is crusty and brown.