You might not believe this, but every year for the past few years I’ve brined and roasted a turkey right around the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Sometimes a week before. Sometimes a couple weeks after. But I’ve never made turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
Well, two reasons really: my Mother-in-law and my Grandmother. Every other T-day, my wife and I are either at her parents’ house to celebrate, or at my grandparents’ house to celebrate (this year we will be at my grandparents—more on that in the next post to come). So because my wife and I alternate between our respective families every year, there really isn’t much reason for me to cook a turkey since my mother-in-law and grandmother do such a good job with it.
So why do I cook a turkey at all?
Well, another two reasons: It makes me feel alls growed up, and it’s good practice for the one day where my wife and I may have to host Thanksgiving. Now, I’ve made one of these pre/post-Thanksgiving turkeys once before for my family, and that didn’t turn out too well. So I’ve stuck to just making a small turkey for only me and my wife. Not because my turkey isn’t good enough for others to enjoy, but because my family is a heartless and impatient bunch. Hmmph!
Anyways, every year my wife and I get to feast on two different turkeys (the turkey I make and the turkey made by the designated maternal figure for that year) within the span of a few days. That’s a lot of turkey! And even though I get the smallest gobbler I can find (10-12 lbs.), there are still a lot of leftovers for just me and my wife.
With the annual surplus of turkey looming, I was almost gonna take this year off and rest from my self-imposed turkey trials because I’m just burned out. But then I started getting different ideas to make this year’s non-Thanksgiving meal a bit different. Ideas like mashed Ube and gravy (gross!), or Adobo Turkey (tempting, but that’s a lot of soy and vinegar!).
Then, while making my Mango and Pan de Sal Bread Pudding, the dried-out cubes of Pan de Sal caused the flickering lightbulb thingy above my head to go off again: Pan de Sal and Longanisa Stuffing!
Every November I see so many stuffing recipes comprised of cornbread and sausage, French bread and sausage, challah bread and sausage, any bread and sausage. So Pan de Sal and longanisa stuffing isn’t that much of a stretch. A natural progression, I say! And luckily, I’ve still got some homemade longanisa in my freezer.
Although I’ve got some decent experience in bringing a juicy turkey to the dinner table, I’ve never in my life made stuffing. 99% of the stuffing that I’ve consumed in my lifetime has been made by my wife, my mother-in-law, my mom, or my grandma. And all of these aforementioned ladies do not make a stuffing from scratch, they all make their stuffing from a box of Mrs. Cubbison’s. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stuffing out of the box. I love the stuff. I grew up on it. Mmmm, Mrs. Cubbison. A tasty lass is she!
Anyhoo, even though I look forward to getting a taste of Mrs. C every year, I theorized that my riff on a traditional bread and sausage stuffing would be a worthwhile endeavor. (And besides, I’m going to have Mrs. Cubbison’s stuffing at my grandmother’s in a couple of days!).
Before I get to my recipe, I have to make a disclaimer and say that technically speaking, I made a “dressing” and not a “stuffing” since I didn’t actually stuff the mixture into my turkey. But I’m still calling it a stuffing because I think of “dressing” as the stuff that goes on salad. Also, my recipe is for a 9x9 baking dish, but I’m sure it can be doubled for more servings in a 13x9 baking dish.
And yes, you can stuff the stuffing into a turkey if you wish, but I am firmly entrenched in the anti-turkey stuffing camp for the following reasons:
- Shoving stuffing up a turkey’s backside leads to a longer cooking time because there is more mass to cook.
- Longer cooking time leads to a dry turkey.
- If you don’t cook the stuffed bird long enough, you may have a juicy bird but you will also have a glob of salmonella-infused bread and sausage. Yum-o!
After a lifetime of Mrs. Cubbison’s, I always assumed that a homemade stuffing would be a difficult task to attempt. I was wrong. Despite the title of this post, stuffin’ is indeed, easy. It might be a bit time-consuming, but it ain’t hard.
Pan de Sal and Longanisa Stuffing
1/2 pound Pan de Sal rolls (about 4-5 rolls), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and left out to dry overnight
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound longanisa sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 mins then drained and chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup homemade turkey stock (or storebought chicken stock)
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the pan de sal to a large mixing bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the longanisa to the pan and cook until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove longanisa from pan and add to mixing bowl with the pan de sal.
Add all of the vegetables to the pan and saute until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to mixing bowl with pan de sal and longanisa.
Return saute pan to the heat and add the 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze, making sure to scrape the brown bits from the pan. Turn heat off, and transfer deglazed pan liquid to the mixing bowl. Add the turkey stock to the mixing bowl and gently mix contents (try not to break up the bread cubes).
Add the eggs and salt and pepper to the mixing bowl and continue to mix contents until eggs are incorporated, use your hands to mix if necessary. Place the stuffing mixture into a 9x9 baking dish and cover dish with foil. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 1 hour. After an hour, remove foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until top of stuffing has browned nicely.
Another disclaimer: I’m going to be honest with you, my Pan de Sal and Longanisa Stuffing was pretty darned good, especially with the additions of the meaty shiitakes and fragrant ginger. But this stuffing was mostly good on its own. It didn’t play well when drenched with turkey gravy—I’m one of those dudes that drenches everything in gravy.
Maybe I’m too used to good ol’ Mrs. C, but the vinegary bite of the longanisa and the kick of ginger in my stuffing just clashed with my gravy. I’m beginning to think that a Turkey Adobo wouldn’t have been a bad idea afterall, and probably would have paired perfectly with this stuffing. The adobo sauce would be an excellent gravy for this stuffing. Perhaps I’ll give that idea a whirl next year, but I wouldn’t adobo-ize an entire turkey. Maybe I could just buy some turkey breasts or thighs and use my usual chicken adobo recipe on the turkey parts rather than the whole. Oh, well. There's always next year.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And stay tuned to see how my family gets down on Turkey Day, or should I say, Pig Day. Hmmm…