I'm up stuffing's creek with no paddle!

I've always hated stuffing (please forgive me): the celery flavor, the mushiness, all of it. I decided to make broiled hard salami cups, and fill them with spoonfuls of a deconstructed-type of loose "stuffing" - dehydrated sourdough bread pieces/crumbs, diced packaged pre-roasted chestnuts, diced persimmon. I have for flavoring: homemade turkey stock, fresh sage, fresh thyme, plus I'm thinking maybe some red onion? Red wine? Should I be caramelizing the chestnuts? Can I caramelize the persimmons? How do I even make any of this?? I have no idea what I'm doing with this one....help!

Jacklyn Salama Lahav


Jacklyn S. November 25, 2016
So here's how it turned out: I diced the red onions and caramelized them with Marsala wine. Then did the same for the persimmons, but over a fairly high heat and took them off fast. They were soft, but not mushy. I spread the pre-dehydrated whole wheat sourdough and roughly chopped pre-roasted chestnuts on baking sheets, sprinkled with fresh chopped Sage and doused with turkey broth, about a cup per large sheet. And I put it in a 425 (I think?) convection oven to crisp up a bit. Mixed everything together and it was delicious! Not mushy! I filled the broiled hard salami cups as an additional appetizer as my hungry guests played more Pictionary, and they flew off the table. I served the rest of the stuffing in bowls at dinner.
Nancy November 25, 2016
Glad it worked out.
Here's to non-mushy success! :)
Leith D. November 22, 2016
Antonia...porchetta+polenta=aaahhhh....I'd make extra cubes to snack on! We're getting off the topic of this question!
AntoniaJames November 22, 2016
This may seem like a bit of a project, but I recommend polenta cubes, which would be perfect here, where they will actually be noticed and appreciated. Make polenta today putting a generous amount of coarsely chopped "stuffing" herbs - rosemary, sage, thyme in the cooking water. Stir in chopped parsley when the polenta is cooked. Spread in an 8 x 8 pan (for 1 cup polenta: 3.5 cups water batch) and chill for 2 - 3 hours in the fridge. Flip over onto a cutting board; cut into 1" cubes. Spread on an large, well oiled baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees; remove pan, let sit for 10 minutes, flip cubes gently, roast for another 20 minutes, let cool on the pan, gently remove. I'd roast some tiny cubes of celery root and fennel, and yes, roast little chunks of that red onion, too! Use just the tiniest bit of stock, if at all. More fresh herbs, finely chopped, yes. I'd put apple in, and not persimmons, which won't be flavorful enough, especially when cooked. Have fun! ;o)
P.S. Keep this one in your back pocket as a good gluten-free stuffing, if you ever need one. All of the foregoing can be baked in a dish in the oven. In fact, it's one of my sides this Thursday, with sauteed chunks of salami included.
Leith D. November 22, 2016
That sounds amazing! I'll stick with my regular recipe for Thanksgiving, but please post this one so I can use it for another dinner side dish. It sounds so yummy.
ChefJune November 22, 2016
OMG, Antonia! I've just copied that into my recipe files. Not for this week, but some busy weeknight...
AntoniaJames November 22, 2016
Okay! I will do that. A couple of other details . . . I stir about 1/2 cup of *real* Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated, into the polenta before putting it into the brownie pan. And not only do I roast a chopped tart apple (Braeburn, Ginger Gold, new, local) with the vegetables, I also add a chopped raw apple when I put the whole thing together, for texture and brightness. I include bits of regular celery on the roasting pan with the other veg, and of course I reserve the celery leaves, and chop them with the parsley and other fresh herbs to add in at the end.
The only truly difficult thing about this stuffing is resisting the temptation to eat those polenta cubes while they're sitting there innocently cooling on the sheet pan.
And Leith, this goes well with porchetta or a pork tenderloin rubbed with rosemary, sage and garlic-infused oil. Leftovers with poached egg or stuffed into a frittata are also eagerly devoured. ;o)
AntoniaJames November 29, 2016
ChefJune and Leith, I just posted my polenta stuffing in a reformatted version as a strata. I always make a double batch, putting into the fridge half the base ingredients, to use either as a brunch dish or (with homemade tomato soup) a post-Thanksgiving supper. Here is the link: https://food52.com/recipes/65863-herbed-polenta-strata-with-roasted-vegetables-and-apples Cheers! ;o)
Leith D. November 22, 2016
If you want to do stuffing cups, make stuffing muffins in your muffin pan! You can use any stuffing recipe you want (the persimmons sound amazing), and the edges come out really crispy. They're easy to serve and are different than the usual casserole. Happy Thanksgiving!
Nancy November 22, 2016
If you really hate stuffing, don't make or serve it (It's your table).
If there are people coming who loves and wants stuffing (and you want to please those guests), either ask them to make their favorite stuffing and bring it, or you make a (smallish) batch of a tried and true stuffing. (And maybe also send it home with that person as a gift.)
If you want to replace the stuffing with a similar starch, serve a high quality bread or plain starchy vegetable.
If you want to incorporate some of the mentioned ingredients in the meal, you can do that elsewhere than stuffing (flavoring the turkey, salami as part of an antipasto platter, etc.)
What I would not do is drive myself crazy inventing and testing a new recipe two days before Thanksgiving.
Maybe you don't have to, either.
ChefJune November 22, 2016
I completely agree with Nancy! You could, however, try a Wild Rice dressing (I've never called it "stuffing") It doesn't get mushy -- but none of the traditional recipes get mushy if you don't put it in the turkey.
Lindsay-Jean H. November 22, 2016
I have always struggled with stuffing too, until I was introduced to this one: https://food52.com/recipes/19344-layered-grapes-and-bread-with-chevre-and-balsamic I especially like that the bread is essentially turned into croutons first, it's adds flavor and cuts mushiness, and I think the technique could get incorporated into the plan you have.
Jacklyn S. November 22, 2016
I think I'm going to try my hand at a variation of this. I'd appreciate any input on how to caramelize the already roasted and peeled chestnuts and the persimmons so I don't just make them mushy!
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