Thursday, November 25, 2010
In Which Skin Gets Stuffed
In Chasing Smoke, Skin mentions his family life only in passing: "[My father], Martin Kadash is little more than a name to me, a faceless Jew whom my Catholic mother felt compelled to honor by lighting a menorah on Christmas morning and making BLTs with bologna instead of bacon."
As an adult, he spent his Thanksgivings with long-time friend Andy Suszko. They'd eat turkey pot pies and bitch about the fact it always had to be the damned Dallas Cowboys and the useless Detroit Lions for the Thanksgiving Day football games.
After he met Peter and Ruby Jane in Lost Dog, his holiday meals got more elaborate. They forced Skin and Andy to participate in actual cooking and sit-down eating. Madness! Skin was resistant at first, but then he got some of Ruby Jane's stuffing and, well, turns out he really likes Thanksgiving! Though the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions can still go rot.
By the time you're reading this, you've either already started cooking your stuffing or, if you're Canadian, have already eaten it. Even so, here is Ruby Jane's approach to stuffing (perfectly yummy for other upcoming holiday meals) (or, hell, just make stuffing) (because it's good) (anytime):
She makes two pans of stuffing, one sweet and one savory. Per 9x13 dish of stuffing....
Bread (same for both sweet and savory):
Loaf of Sourdough
Loaf of Multigrain
Cube and dry. If you're in a hurry, dry in the oven at about 200° for a couple of hours.
2 diced apples
Raisins (RJ adds them to the mixed stuffing until it looks right, so so she doesn't know how many.)
Chopped walnuts (same, though probably about a cup)
Dried cranberries (optional, but yummy)
One great big sweet onion, diced
Sausage. She usually gets a 1/2 pound of turkey-apple sausage at New Sleazons. (Called New Sleazons because, at least for a while, it had a reputation for being where all the employees have sex with each other and then commit acts of public drama in the aftermath of said sex.)
A few strips of sweet cured bacon crisped and chopped are good too.
1-2 tablespoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
(Or so. Spices are to taste, and these measurements are estimated based on the size of Ruby Jane's cupped hand.)
Liquid (probably about 3 or so total cups):
1/2 chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 orange juice
You'll add the liquid to the mixed stuffing until it's moist but not drenched, probably about a cup or two of each. If you use more of one than the other, better to use more broth. Probably.
Use the drippings from the cooked sausage, plus added butter until you have about a 1/4 cup of fat (may not need butter, though turkey sausage won't have much fat so definitely have some on hand.)
Can of sliced water chestnuts (If you're a glutton for punishment, you can roast your own chestnuts, but Ruby Jane isn't crazy.)
4-5 stalks diced celery
3-4 carrots diced (optional, some people find carrots weird in stuffing)
One great big white onion, diced
Dried cranberries also work in savory if you like. (Ruby Jane likes.)
Mushrooms, sliced (one of those small containers, however much that is.)
Sausage: 1/2 pound savory sage pork sausage
1 tablespoonish Parsley
1 tablespoonish Sage
1 tablespoonish Thyme
Handful of chopped chives
Liquid: Chicken or vegetable broth, 3 or so cups, plus or minus. Hell, you decide.
Fat: Pork sausage will probably give you plenty, but what the hell. Keep some button on hand just in case.
Prep for both:
Cook sausage, (and bacon, if including) and set aside but leave drippings in pan. Nosh on a few bites of sausage and bacon, but not too much.
Drink some wine or beer. This doesn't have anything to do with the actual cooking, but is an important step nonetheless.
Add chopped veggies/fruits/onions and cook until they start to soften on mediumish heat (6-8 minutes, probably). (Or, who knows? Ten minutes?) (Remember, Ruby Jane is drinking wine while making this, so it's not like she's putting a lot of thought into such matters as the passing seconds.)
By the way ... Drink.
In a big bowl, turn in the dry seasonings with the bread cubes, then add a cup or so of liquid and toss. Continue adding liquid until the bread/seasoning mix is moist. Then mix in veggie/fruits and meat, followed by dried fruits and nuts.
This is a good time to nosh and decide if you need a little more seasonings, or salt and pepper. Also, drink.
Put in a big, oiled or buttered baking dish and bake at 375° for about half an hour. I often put pats of butter on the top of the stuffing, because I want to kill my beating heart with buttery deliciousness. Ruby Jane is a bit more circumspect, but she secretly likes the butter too. While it's cooking, have some wine.
Eat. Turkey and other foodstuffs are optional, though Ruby Jane pretty much insists on mashed potatoes. Oh, and by the way, instead of milk or cream in the mashed potatoes, use sour cream. That's another Ruby Jane tip.