Last night I auditioned a stuffing for Thanksgiving, and let’s just say that casting is complete. After a couple years of making a predictable, albeit predictably superb, Italian Sausage and Bread Stuffing from Gourmet, this year I’m opting for a totally decadent version involving escarole for bitterness, pine nuts and wild rice for nuttiness, fresh ricotta and parm and prosciutto for richness, and cornbread stuffing for comfort. It’s an old Janet Hazen recipe, and is meant to be served with wild game. But who knows what kind of teenage angst our Heritage turkey will have played out in its youth? Also, if you’re thinking that this sounds a little rich for Thanksgiving (and believe me, you’d be right, but I’m going with it anyway), it’s also totally fantastic with a roast chicken, which is how we enjoyed it last night.
Cornbread and Escarole Stuffing
Adapted from New Game Cuisine, by Janet Hazen (Chronicle Books, 1990)
Makes 5-6 cups
4 cups water
1/3 cup wild rice
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head escarole, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1/3 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/2 cup FRESH ricotta cheese (please, please, please make sure it’s the fresh stuff!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups packaged cornbread stuffing, prepared (embarrassed to say I used Stove Top as it was all I could find, but will be looking for a better alternative)
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil, add wild rice, stir, and return to boil. Reduce heat to moderately high and cook uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until rice is tender and kernels start to burst. Drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, cook the shallots and garlic in butter and olive oil over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add escarole and cook just until it begins to wilt.
Remove from heat and add mixture to large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and the wild rice, and mix well, making sure to incorporate ricotta and evenly distribute cornbread stuffing. At this point, I pulled the chicken out of the oven and stuck the stuffing in a Le Creuset gratin dish and roasted for 5 minutes (at 425-ish degrees) just to melt the parm, and then served it with a perfectly roasted chicken.