Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Stuffing that Dreams Are Made of

Last night, I previewed an old family recipe for stuffing. I needed to taste it again and determine if it was “the one” to accompany the turkey next week. When it came out of the oven, my Golden Raisin Dressing for Poultry was every bit as golden as I remembered; it was a buttery-melt-in-your-mouth- yellow in both color and flavor—and the white raisins (packaged now as “Golden” at the grocery store) added that subtle tang and pop that tickled my taste buds in so many Thanksgivings past.

Last night, I served it alongside a simple breast of pan roasted chicken. It was nice to have a solution for what to do with that neatly wrapped package of breast meat. As obvious a solution as stuffing is, it doesn’t seem to occur to home cooks outside of the holidays. Or does it? I’m taking a poll—a nostalgic look at the days when Stove Top stuffing commercials starred teenagers, who leaned against their lockers and invited their school crushes over for “chicken and Stove Top”. Did that really used to be a popular menu item all 12 months of the year? (Note: I have TiVo and fast forward through commercials, so I’d be interested to know if this cozy little stuffing ad campaign still exists!

But, let’s take a moment to look at stuffing as the crowning glory of your next turkey or chicken dinner. Chicken can be a rather plain canvas. We wonder if we’re going to bake it with some carefully wrought seasoning, coat it in bread crumbs and fry it, or create an elaborate sauce to top it. When you use a dressing—or “stuffing”—all you need is a plain breast of chicken sautéed in a little sweet butter with a pinch of salt. Stuffing does the rest of the work, and is whipped together in mere minutes; click here for photos on TOP NANAS entertaining blog to see Steps: making the dressing.

Another encouraging thing about Golden Raisin Stuffing is the quantity you can make with under $10 in ingredients. I halved the ingredients from my original recipe (which makes enough to feed over 12 hungry dinner guests), and still have enough left over to enjoy the rest of the week. One thing Nanas who babysit should know about this recipe, is how intriguing it can be to grandchildren just learning to read. When one of my recipe testers made it for her family, her grandson read the title of the box out loud. “Golden raisins?” he said, “what do they look like?! Can I try one?” After he did, a new after school snack was born.

But getting back to the stuffing you’ll need on November 24th, 2011…I highly advocate this one. And I wanted to talk a little bit about whether or not to stuff it in the cavity of bird or bake it separately. It may interest you to know that most of the cooking pros out there, prepare their stuffing separately. They don’t like putting in the bird because it doesn’t come out as brown and crispy that way—not to mention the fact that they have concerns about bacteria if it’s left in uncooked poultry too long. There are a few very important safety rules about roasting your bird and all its accompaniments to perfection: click here for that valuable Thanksgiving prep advice.

We still have a whole week until it’s time to sit down and pass the Parker rolls and gravy boats, so stay tuned on my blog for more Thanksgiving side note features. TOP NANA’s community garden is doing quite well in the string bean department, so maybe something of that nature…

Gobble, Gobble!!!

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