There were turkeys taking up room in one of my freezers. The plump, winged kind. My P.S. (Poultry Stocker/hubby) buys them when he finds good prices, then forgets to tell me they are down there. Turkey in January? Why not? It took 9 days to thaw in the fridge before I was ready to take on a turkey without a holiday.. The frozen kind, with wings.
My P.S. does the turkey prep, putting it into a roasting bag and into the oven. From there he simply checks the internal temp until it is 165°F. He puts the giblets into a large saucepan with some onion and cooks them for the giblet gravy. We argue over who will make the gravy, I win, then I’m in charge of the rest of the meal.
On a slow Sunday, we had snacked all afternoon while we played Wii. That might have been only the second time we’ve actually played video games since I bought the Wii for his birthday several years ago. We rarely remember to play it. The grandkids come over and play it way more often than we do.
So after a lazy afternoon of game playing while the turkey roasted, we thought turkey, stuffing, gravy and cucumbers sounded like a good, simple dinner. I only had to make stuffing. I had a bag of cornmeal stuffing in the cupboard that would be good with a few additions. I was thinking of adding pecans since we had quite alot of those left courtesy of our daughter’s trip to Atlanta.
I got lucky right off, finding a recipe for cornmeal mushroom pecan stuffing on Martha Stewart’s site. Odd, I’m not a huge Martha fan but recently have made 4 different recipes from her site. Perhaps I am a fan after all? Her stuffing sounded delicious. Except for not having wild mushrooms on hand, I had the rest covered. I’d simply substitute a can of button mushrooms and save myself a trip to the grocery.
I put the butter into a skillet along with the chopped onions and celery and let them saute for a few minutes while I chopped the pecans a bit. I wanted good sized pieces, but not entire halves. I added them to the skillet instead of roasting them. The turkey was still in the oven so it wasn’t available.
When the onions and celery were translucent, I added the can of mushrooms to the skillet with its juice, the white wine, chicken broth and heavy cream. I’ve never put a milk product like cream in stuffing, and wondered at Martha’s choice. I decided she probably knew more than me (and has a very talented staff) so I’d follow directions. I added dried rosemary and thyme rather than fresh, not having those on hand. I added the salt and pepper and stirred it all again.
When the skillet’s contents were blended and bubbling away, I put the cornbread crumbs into a large bowl and poured the rest over them. I stirred well then poured the stuffing into a greased 9×13-in pan. My oven was finally free, with the turkey pan resting on a rack. I put the stuffing into the oven at 350°F and set the timer for 30 minutes.
The turkey smelled wonderful, sitting there all browned and juicy in its cooking bag. The smell of the stuffing baking soon joined the aromas and my P.S. and I were both drooling. He sliced up garden cucumbers for our veg, I made the gravy, and we waited for the timer.
When the timer went off P.S. (Poultry Slicer/hubby) served up slices of turkey, I added the stuffing, and drizzled the giblet gravy over both. A handful of sliced cucumbers added to the plates and we ate our non-holiday turkey dinner. The turkey and gravy were as excellent as usual, but the stuffing was the star.
The pecans added such a nice nutty flavor, slightly toasted from being sauteed in butter. The seasoning was just perfect, not too strong but definitely noticeable in each moist mouthful of stuffing. The gravy added a nice touch but wasn’t totally necessary. Nice to have but if you’re not having turkey and gravy, you won’t miss it.
My only concern was that the stuffing was pretty crumbly. I like stuffing to stick together a bit more. Adding more broth before baking would accomplish that. I will probably add another cup or two of broth next time. My clue should have been that it wasn’t all sticking together when I put it into the baking pan. If it’s crumbly at that point, it will stay that way. Just a heads up if you like a more wet stuffing like we do.
Cornbread Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing
1 stick butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery; finely chopped
1 cup pecans; roughly chopped
10 ounces mushrooms (chanterelles, oyster, and shiitake) (I used button)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock (I’d add another cup or two if it’s still crumbly after being mixed)
14 ounce package crumbled cornbread stuffing
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add chopped pecans and saute for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
To the skillet add mushrooms, wine, cream and chicken stock. Add thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
In a large bowl add the stuffing and the contents of the skillet. Stir well. Spoon into a greased 9×13-in baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Serve as a side dish. Drizzle with turkey gravy if desired.
Adapted from Martha Stewart