Column: Preparing the perfect stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner

Great Outdoors by James Murray

With the arrival of fall comes the harvest season and a time to give thanks for all the bounty we have to enjoy.

Well, that’s what they say. Anyhow, few things appeal to me more than roast turkey with creamy mashed potatoes, candied carrots, golden waxed beans, wild rice stuffing, home-made cranberry sauce and real gravy made in the roaster from the turkey drippings.

I’ve certainly eaten my share of Thanksgiving dinners. You might even say I have become a bit of a connoisseur .

However my real specialty is making the stuffing. So I offer this simple recipe.

Start with about six cups of large bread crumbs and one cup of fine. You can make your own bread crumbs by drying out bread in the oven. This can be done a day or two ahead of time. I also prepare my wild rice a day ahead of time – about a cup of wild rice in the steamer for about an hour and a half, which I then put in the fridge until I’m ready.

When the time comes to make the stuffing, I start by chopping up three or four stalks of celery which have been quartered lengthwise and placed in a pot to boil in water. Next I fry up about eight to 10 nice-sized brown mushrooms in butter. When about three-quarters cooked, they are set aside in a bowl. When the celery is cooked enough to be soft but not mushy, it too is placed in a bowl. Do not pour out the water. Add two or three generous globs of butter (one glob equals about two table spoons) to the celery water and let simmer at a low heat until the butter is melted.

I like to add about half a cup of turkey drippings to the simmering liquids. I then add about three or four finely chopped dried apricots. Once the apricots are mixed in, I add the celery back into the liquid, along with about half a white onion or one stock of leek (white part only) very finely chopped.

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It is now time to thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. First the bread crumbs, to which is added the wild rice, mushrooms and one egg whisked. Then add the spices. I use sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper. The amount of each is strictly a matter of taste, but too much sage or thyme is too much, whereas not quite enough isn’t the end of the world.

Slowly mix in the saved water until the bread crumbs are damp. Too much liquid will turn your ingredients into one big ball of gooey dough. Once everything is mixed, you can stuff some into your turkey and/or place it into a covered casserole dish and put it in the oven for an hour or so. Do not remove the lid until you are ready to serve it in an appropriate-sized bowl.

The only thing that could possibly improve such a meal would be a nice big piece of well seasoned pumpkin pie, served with a glob of real whipped cream on top. Oh, and maybe a glass or two of sparkling wine. Personally, I would settle for a well chilled Coca Cola in a glass bottle.

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