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Two Chefs, Two Cities, One Holiday Classic

Turkey Stuffing
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I love stuffing.  I try to eat it only once a year but the indulgence usually happens twice – on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve had some amazing varieties from the classic to crawfish cluttered, each one unique in their right.  If you are looking for one more comforting side dish for this Christmas, Chef Richard Blankenship (Chef de Cuisine, CBD Provisions, Dallas, TX) and Chef Shawn Sanchez (TaDa! Catering, Los Angeles, CA) share their twists on my favorite holiday accompaniment.  And even better, they have scaled back on fat and calories.

Caramel Pear-Rosemary Stuffing by Chef Richard Blankenship

This is a “healthier riff” on a classic family recipe that I remember from many Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners.  The original is laden with bacon and sausage and very much Texas-style in richness.  For this version I removed the pork and added caramel-glazed pears for some richness which manages to retain the homey, Southern comfort that is at the forefront of this side dish.  I hope you like it.

Ingredients & Method

For the Cornbread:

  • 1 Cup cornmeal
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 Cup white sugar
  • ¼ Cup apple sauce ( a great substitute for oil or dairy in most baking recipes)
  • 2 whole eggs

Start by mixing your dry ingredients together (flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).  Then “pinch the butter” into it much like a biscuit preparation.  You can do this by literally pinching the butter into the dry ingredients into smaller pieces (about the size of your fingertips).  When the butter is well incorporated add the remaining ingredients and fold the batter together.  Pour the cornbread mix into a greased 9” baking round and bake at 350F for 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out dry.  When finished allow the bread to cool then crumble it on a baking tray and let it sit out overnight.  You can let it stand for up to 2-3 days depending how much time you have.  The idea is to really dry it out so it will soak up the flavor of the other ingredients of the stuffing.

For the Pears:

  • 3 Bosc Pears, peeled
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • ½ Cup butter
  • 2 Tablespoons apple brandy

First combine the butter and sugar in a sauce pan and cook on low while gradually stirring to incorporate.  While the caramel is cooking, dice the pears.  Most people will tell you to put the pears in lemon water so they don’t oxidize but that’s not necessary for this recipe.  When the pears are diced the caramel should be a nice brown color and smell great.  Add the pears and cook them until they are just tender then add the brandy and allow it to cook almost all the way out.  Remove from heat and set aside

For the Stuffing:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 to 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 Tablespoon picked thyme

First dice all your veggies then add to a large sauce pan with the butter.  Cook slowly on low heat until the veg is soft and aromatic.  Add the thyme, dried cornbread, and caramel pears.  Fold everything together and continue to cook on medium heat to toast everything.  When the entire mix is hot, slowly add the chicken broth to bring the stuffing together.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.  Scoop the stuffing into a casserole dish and toast under the broiler until the top is golden brown.  Serve!

Roasted Grape and Chipotle Cornbread Stuffing by Chef Shawn Sanchez

I’m Los Angeles born and bred and my cooking showcases just that.  Mexican culture is not just a part of who I am but a part of the greater cultural landscape of Southern California.  Bold flavors mixed with California’s natural bounty of fruits and vegetables are a huge influence on all of my dishes.   I’ve lightened up this stuffing recipe by substituting fatty chorizo with smoked chicken sausage and amped up the flavor with chipotles.  Roasted California grapes round out the profile and add an unexpected sweetness.

Ingredients & Method

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, small dice
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers, small dice
  • 3 Tablespoons Chipotles, chopped
  • 10 oz smoked chicken sausage, medium dice (any chicken sausage will work)
  • 2 large roasted red bell peppers, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups green grapes, roasted
  • 3 Tablespoon honey to glaze
  • 1 Cup water, approx., or more depending on how moist you want your stuffing
  • 5 Cups stale corn bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Cup stale bolillo bread (Mexican style baguette usually used for tortas)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium size pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat.  Cook onion until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add poblano, red bell and chipotle peppers, garlic, and chicken sausage to the pan and cook until sausage is browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl combine roasted grapes, cornbread, and bolillo bread.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large pot.  Add pepper and sausage mixture to bread and grapes and combine well, adding enough water to moisten well.  Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.  Place in greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Coat top with honey and bake again for another 4-8 minutes. Let cool then serve.
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