The season to feast is upon us, and what better way to kick off an Italian feast than with a traditional Italian stuffing? This is definitely not your mother’s stuffing, but rather my memory of my mother’s stuffing with a little added Gianna-flare:
2 loaves good quality rustic bread,
cut into three-fourths inch cubes
7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 fresh sausages (preferably Sweet Italian)
removed from casing and crumbled
4 heads broccoli rabe, cleaned, steamed
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ cup chestnuts, cleaned, sliced along
the shell and baked at 425 for about 15 minutes
¼ cup of pecans
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
(optional: ½ cup of white wine, sherry or
any great brandy added to pan at the very end)
Heat olive oil and brown garlic in a large skillet. Add the sausage and let it brown and then add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have softened, add the broccoli rabe, bread and nuts and cook until all ingredients have melted together. Season as desired. (I like salt, fresh ground pepper, ¼ cup of parsley, two sage leaves and a few springs of fresh rosemary.)
So how do you know when the stuffing is done? When your house smells so delicious that you think “to hell with thanksgiving, I have to eat this now…” Oh, and trust me, it will happen. Now, what I like to do with my stuffing is actually stick it in my turkey with about five pats of butter, sew her up, and enjoy it at the thanksgiving table. But most people who I give the recipe to prefer to use it as a side dish. Both are fine, just make sure you enjoy its flavor.
Thanksgiving: it’s a time to give thanks. When I cook, I like to think about the things that I’m most thankful for. Of course, family always comes first. But I need to be a little bit more thankful for my husband who puts up with my desire to be with my children and my parents as much as him. Why don’t we all try to make time this holiday season to be with the ones who love us and go out on dates and remember what it was like to take a walk holding hands. I’m fortunate enough to have someone who reminds me of that even when I become a tyrant and an anal, crazy, psychotic Italian, mambo-singing female dog. I’m thankful for my friends who have been dedicated to preserving my sanity.
Finally, I am thankful to Michelle, who is the secret to my success. Her loyal support during my most scattered days, allows me to take the time write these columns and be involved in this community.
Peace, Pasta, Wine