Thanksgiving Week! Wild Mushroom, Goat Cheese, & Cornbread Dressing
(NOTE: I apologize for the sloppy pictures, these were taken last year after copious bottles of wine were drunk – hopefully I’ll take better ones this year!)
Here is the big debate – should we have dressing or stuffing? If you didn’t know about this huge semantic debate we have in the South, stuffing and dressing are the same thing – except stuffing is literally stuffed in the cavity of the turkey, whereas dressing is baked in a pan by itself.
I prefer dressing for one main reason. If you put the stuffing inside the bird, the stuffing itself has to cook to 180 degrees. That means you bird must cook to 180 degrees, and based off yesterday’s post, we don’t want that turkey going anywhere past 165. Thus, if you want your turkey and dressing perfectly cooked, then do it separately.
Mine dressing recipe is actually pretty traditional, but it has two epicurean twists. Instead of using sausage or oysters, I use wild mushrooms. This makes sense since most people in my family are vegetarian. I also use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock for the same reason, although chicken/turkey stock works lovely. My really interesting and surprising ingredient is the goat cheese, which not only adds depth of flavor by bringing a level of tanginess to the party, but also inserts a creamy texture amidst the cornbread and mushrooms. To me, the goat cheese makes this recipe.
I make the dressing in two steps: (1) Make the cornbread and (2) make the dressing. You could certainly buy cornbread or corn muffins and they will work fine. I, however, like the idea of making my own cornbread and it’s actually pretty easy to put together.
(Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence)
4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped (optional)
2 cups stone-ground cornmeal, white or yellow
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the bacon into a cold 10-inch cast iron pan and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon bits are crisp. Do not let it burn. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Keep the bacon fat in the pan and set aside.
If not using bacon, add about 3 tablespoons of butter and let it melt over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl beat the eggswith a whisk until foamy; whisk in the milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the bacon bits, and chives. Pour the batter into the cast iron pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
(Photo Credit: http://www.foodnetwork.com)
The next step is to actually assemble the dressing. Get a combination of wild mushrooms – there are so many great ones to choose from these days and they all contribute a unique flavor and texture to your dish.
Wild Mushroom, Goat Cheese, & Cornbread Dressing
4 tablespoons of butter
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 lbs of assorted wild mushrooms (shittake, cremini, portabello, oyster, porcini, morel, chanterelle, etc.)
12 oz fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock.
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. When starting to foam, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Season with salt. Cook until transparent and then add the garlic. After one more minute, add all the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until most of the moisture has evaporated and they have become golden brown. Add the fresh sage and parsley and cut the heat.
Combine the stock, egg, and heavy cream.
Dump the mushroom mixture into a pan and crumble in the goat cheese and the cornbread. Mix to combine.
Add stock one ladle at a time to moisten the mixture. When the dressing is perfectly saturated with stock – that is to say not to wet so it’s soupy and not too dry so it’s crumbly. You may not use all the stock, you may need some more. Put it in a buttered baking dish and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until it is cooked all the way through and golden brown on top, about 30-35 minutes.
So now we have turkey and dressing. Stay tuned tomorrow for more tips on how to make this Thanksgiving holiday your best yet!