To be perfectly frank, I’d rather have grocery store Sushi than eat a Thanksgiving meal. However, I am willing to embrace the fact that the holiday is more about the company you keep than food you eat (some would argue otherwise I’m sure). Also I might add, when it comes time for the meal, my favorite things are Stove Top and canned cranberry sauce, all class, all the time.
Last week I hosted an early Thanksgiving potluck for some friends and obliged them with some of the classics like stuffing and roasted vegetables, but as far as poultry, I went in a completely different direction…Chicken Marbella. I used the Gourmet Magazine recipe and it came out so wonderfully delicious, the prunes absorb all the chicken juices and are just to die for. I also made the New York Times recipe for Chantarelle and Pear Stuffing Muffins (shortened affectionatley to stuffins) and succeeded tremendously. Seriously, it was so delicious I would make this any other day of the year (butter makes everything better). I couldn’t find chantarelles…so I used Shitakes.
I had this week off so I hopped down to New York City for a few days. I had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with family in Brooklyn, pass the canned cranberry sauce. The rest of the time was spent trapsing all over the city and eating everything (Asian). From wonton soup and spicy albacore at the little restaurant on the bottom floor of a friend’s apartment, to delicious Bi Bim Bap in Korea town at 5am Saturday morning (at the only white and beligerently drunk table in the restaurant) to upscale pho and spring rolls at Le Colonial…it was quite a delicious weekend.
Ohh…and I made brussels sprouts. Look!
Two-Way Chanterelle and Pear Bread Stuffing
Time: One hour plus 24 hours for drying bread
1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread (I used cheap while pre-sliced Italian from Walmart…shhhhh)
1 pound chanterelle mushrooms (shitakes work well…and have a cooler name)
1/3 pound pancetta, diced small
10 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins (seriously?)
1 large chopped onion
1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup white wine
3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou) plus one whole pear
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup minced chives (I skipped the chives)
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups turkey stock. (low sodium chicken broth was on sale for $00.33 so I used that, also I hate turkey as you probably already know)
1. Tear bread into small pieces (you should have about 16 cups) No way…I had about 10 cups. and set in roasting pan or bowl. To dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside. (I think I screwed this part up, since my stuffins weren’t as crispy as the times’)
2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a large plate.
3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.
4. Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. (I think I added too much broth, I’d say skip this step) Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If you are stuffing a brined turkey, remember that the bird will add a bit more salt. Ew, I hate stuffing from inside a turkey.
8. Just before roasting turkey, place some room-temperature stuffing lightly inside a prepared bird. Place whole pear in opening of cavity to help hold stuffing in the bird. NOPE
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. (forgot to do this) Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. (The actual cooking time was much closer to 40 miuntes and I still never got that golden crust right) To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.
Yield: Enough stuffing for a 12- to 14-pound turkey and a dozen muffin tins. If not stuffing a turkey, recipe will fill two dozen muffin tins or a small casserole dish.
10-12 servings I used 4 split breasts, 12 wings and 3 pounds of thighs and served 15 people comfortably at a potluck)
Updated: January 6, 2009
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed (I threw in about twenty cloves…it’s not like i’m kissing anyone any time soon)
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes (double or nothing!)
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives (too lazy…I used not pitted, slightly more fun?)
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice (you can never have too many capers)
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Add the potatoes and coat in marinade.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice. (Maybe it was my oven, but the chicken took almost two hours to cook evenly)
With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat. (there was soooo much juice, I had to remove some during cooking to keep the chicken from poaching. I wanted a bit of a crust)
To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.