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Okay, I know that at the big holiday dinners it’s hard to break away from the tried and true accompaniments… the infamous green bean and mushroom casserole topped with those crispy fried onions, the marshmallow, sugary coma yams, the sagey stuffing. Well I’m not saying to forget making all of your favorites — but just suggesting that this year you try one or two new things.
Now let’s chat about Brussels sprouts. For years I couldn’t even bear the thought of them – remembering them only as stinky, overcooked little cabbages. But after lots of Brussels-sprouts-correctly-cooked “therapy,” I will happily eat those petites choux, especially when lightly steamed and slathered with Toasted Walnut Butter. … Stinky cabbages, be gone! Even my husband’s family will eat them!
And what’s always the most debatable menu item? Well, stuffing of course! Is corn bread your standard, or sagey bread your pleasure? Do you like it super-moist or extra-herby? With sausage? What about water chestnuts for crunch? Does your group fight over the crispy crunchy part or the squishy moist stuff deep in the bird? And why is there never enough??!! Most everyone would almost forsake the entire meal for a big mound of the perfect stuffing.
But this year why not try something a little different? My Overnight Wild Rice, Hazelnut & Mushroom Stuffing is a delicious and also healthier alternative to traditional bread stuffing. It’s based on cooked wild rice, veggies and wild mushrooms, and still includes bread—but make that from a local, rustic loaf—and about half as much butter as is typical. This medley is then enhanced with crunchy toasted hazelnuts, tangy dried cranberries, and fresh herbs. Prepping the stuffing the night before serving gives all the flavors a chance to meld and makes it easier on the cook, too. This is also an excellent dish to “bring and bake”.
Here’s wishing that all your holiday meals are D’Lish!
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnut Butter
Makes about 12 servings
6 cups trimmed and halved fresh Brussels sprouts (about 3 pounds)
3/4 cup walnut pieces
4 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced lemon zest
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
Prepare compound butter first.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread walnuts on a baking pan and place in preheated oven for about 5 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted and golden. Let cool. Place butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice, zest and maple syrup in a food processor and process ingredients until smooth. Add cooled walnuts and pulse into butter till almost smooth but small pieces of walnut are still visible. Steam Brussels sprouts in a steaming basket over boiling water and cook until just tender — but not overcooked. Immediately toss with softened walnut butter and serve.
Note: If making butter ahead, it can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Just be sure to bring to room temperature before using.
Copyright © 2000 by Kathy Casey – From Dishing with Kathy Casey
Overnight Wild Rice, Hazelnut & Mushroom Stuffing
Be sure to use a good rustic loaf of bread.
Makes 6 – 8 servings
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup wild rice
4 cups 1-inch-cubed rustic artisanal bread
1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter (or you can use olive oil- but butter adds more flavor)
1 cup 1/4-inch-diced onion
1 cup 1/4-inch-diced celery
3 cups sliced chanterelle mushrooms, or substitute other wild mushrooms or domestic mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in wild rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer rice, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until very tender. Drain and cool.
Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Place bread cubes and hazelnuts in large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter then add the onion, celery, and mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 7–8 minutes, or until tender. Add cranberries and broth and bring to a simmer. Add mushroom mixture, drained rice, herbs, and beaten egg to bread and nuts, and toss until bread is thoroughly coated. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Place stuffing in baking pan, cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors develop.
When ready to bake, pull out of refrigerator 30 minutes ahead to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake in preheated oven for 35–45 minutes, or until cooked through. For a “crisper” stuffing, bake for a few minutes more.
Chef’s Note: if doubling the recipe use a larger baking pan and increase cooking time by about 10 minutes.
©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®