Sunday, November 7, 2010

stuff like that there


Stuffing. To be honest, I don't really know what I think about it. I mean, it's a standard. I've been making Andouille and Cornbread Stuffing for the last 4 years, before I even had this blog. I think it was a condition of admission to our friends Jeff and Marcela's Thanksgiving last year. :)

But, I mean, I've never actually stuffed a bird with it. We smoke our turkey at very low temperatures in the smoker, so unless we wanted a Salmonella Stuffing, it's always technically been "dressing." And while I love the andouille/cornbread extravaganza as much as the next person, if we're talking strictly carbs, I'd rather mac and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs, etc. over regular stuffing.

In any case, I care enough for my well-being that I continue to make it, and will make it for this year's dinner as well. I couldn't resist giving this Herbed Oyster Stuffing a try, though - I wanted something fairly traditional, but still enough off the beaten path to warrant the extra effort of trying something new. However, since we're having a relatively small gathering this year, I'll be sticking to my tradition, and not making two.

That's not to say that this wasn't completely delicious - it was, and maybe it'll go on your Thanksgiving table. Don't be put off by the oysters - they're not as weird as they sound. You almost don't taste them - just like you don't taste the anchovies when you melt them into tomato sauce. You just taste a richness of flavor that makes you go, "Yummmm, what IS that?"

Herbed Oyster Stuffing
from Epicurious
Makes 8-10 servings

1 lb. Italian or French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (12 cups)
1/2 lb. sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 T. olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 c.)
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
3 T. chopped fresh thyme or 1 T. dried thyme
1 T. finely chopped fresh sage or 2 t. dried sage
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2/3 c. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
18 oysters, shucked, drained, and chopped (3/4 c.)
2 1/4 c. turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Spread bread cubes in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool bread in pans on racks, then transfer to a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet.

4. If bacon renders less than 1/4 cup fat, add enough oil to skillet to total 1/4 cup fat. Cook onions, celery, thyme, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper in fat in skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread cubes, then stir in bacon, parsley, butter, and oysters. Drizzle with stock, then season with salt and pepper and toss well.

5. Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3- to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.

Note: Stuffing can be assembled (without oysters and not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature and stir in oysters before baking.

To go with the stuffing, we had Cornmeal-Molasses Fried Chicken from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, an impromptu garage sale find Matty got for me on his way home from grabbing a cup of coffee this weekend. It would be sweet if it wasn't completely selfish. ;)

I don't know why I bother making fried chicken - all that time and mess, and it's never as good or as gorgeous as any restaurant version. This particular recipe had immense flavor (the sweetness of the molasses as just perfect), but between the marinade, the regular flour, more marinade and the cornmeal, the crust was a beast of its own - heavy and overwhelming. I ended up taking most of it off before eating. I regret that I didn't just leave it in the marinade and roast a la Chicken in Milk.

Cornmeal-Molasses Fried Chicken
from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook
Serves 4

1 pint whole milk
1/2 c. molasses
3 T. bourbon
8 chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
vegetable oil for frying (at least 4 cups)

1. In a large bowl, combine the milk, molasses, and bourbon and mix well. Add the chicken pieces, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

2. When ready to cook the chicken, season the flour with salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Place the cornmeal in a separate bowl, and place a rack next to the bowls.

3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Heavily coat the chicken with the seasoned flour, and let sit on rack for 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Heat vegetable oil, in 2 deep-straight-sided skillets, to 350 degrees F; the shortening should be about 3/4-inch deep. When it is hot, dip the chicken back into the marinade and then immediately coat with cornmeal. Carefully place half of the chicken in each pan. Fry chicken for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, about 20 minutes total, until it is deep golden brown and cooked through. (If the oil threatens to smoke at any point, reduce the heat; if the oil stops bubbling around the chicken pieces, increase the heat.)

5. Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

And hands down my favorite thing of the night - Roasted Broccoli + Burrata Salad inspired by Suzanne Goin, but tossed with leftover Cranberry Pistachio Pesto from the other night. Heaven. I know one burrata ball serves so much more than 1, but it's a particularly lovely kind of decadence.

This also serves as my early entry to Fall Fest: Brassicas.

Roasted Broccoli + Burrrata Salad
inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Serves 2

1 lb. broccoli, cut into florets
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 c. cranberry-pistachio pesto
2 balls burrata

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly onto a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until broccoli is done to your liking. Transfer to a bowl and toss with pesto.

3. Place burrata in the center of each plate and cut an X in the top to reveal some of the gooey center. Arrange broccoli over and around. Alternately, you could cut the burrata into small pieces and toss with the broccoli.

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