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Thanksgiving is next week and the need to help others is more crucial than ever—especially in our state’s post-Sandy condition.
For 10 years, Gill St. Bernard School (St. Bernards Road, Gladstone, 908-234-1611) has held an annual turkey drive to benefit the New Jersey Community Food Bank of Hillside. This year, the drive is receiving an extra push from Ninety Acres restaurant at Natirar. Chef David Felton has added a healthy, organic stuffing to its menu to promote the drive. You can sample the stuffing at the restaurant, or make it for your own family feast (recipe below).
The Gill St. Bernard’s drive is tomorrow (November 16). You can donate your turkey at the school between 8 and 8:30 am. Your gift—and Felton’s recipe on your table—will make Thanksgiving even more delicious. The stuffing will remain on Ninety Acres’ menu through the end of November. Monetary donations to the food bank (njfoodbank.org) are welcome anytime.
Jersey Apple and Cranberry Stuffing
1½ cups whole-grain rye bread, toasted and cubed
3¾ cups crusty white bread, toasted and cubed
1 lb crumbled sage-and-ginger sausage (turkey or pork)
1 cup onion, diced small
¾ cup celery, diced small
2½ teaspoons chopped sage and rosemary
1 local apple (baking apples work best)
¾ cup dehydrated, sweetened local cranberries
8 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Turkey stock for moisture, about 2 cups
Turkey livers (optional, but delicious!)
Start by cubing the bread, spreading it on cookie sheets and toasting in the oven until crispy. If the bread is already stale, just cube without toasting and continue with the recipe as follows. (If the bread is stale, you will need more turkey stock.)
In a tall stockpot large enough to hold all the ingredients, begin to brown your crumbled sausage on medium-high heat. Once the sausage is evenly browned, turn the heat to medium-low and add the onions and celery. (Depending on how much fat the sausage lets out, you may want to drain some. Do not drain all of it because that is most of the sausage flavor.)
Once the vegetables are in the mixture, add the butter. Make sure you stir often so it doesn’t burn or brown too much. The mixture will cook down until the celery and onions become almost translucent. Now it’s time to add the apples and cranberries.
Add the fruit and cook until the apples are soft, about 5 minutes.
At this point, all of the ingredients except for the stock, livers and bread are in the pot. Add the bread a little at a time, stirring continuously to make sure that all the bread is coated with the butter, vegetable and fruit mixture.
While the bread is being added, the hot turkey stock should be drizzled in 1/4 cup at a time until the desired moisture level is reached. If you have chosen to use stale bread, the amount of turkey stock needed to sufficiently moisten the bread will be almost three times the normal amount.
Now the stuffing is ready to put into your stuffing or casserole dish. If you choose to use the turkey livers, they will have to be sautéed and chopped, then gently folded into the stuffing before putting it into the pan.
For extra moisture, small dice an extra 4 ounces of butter and place the cubes around the dish.
Cover the mixture with parchment paper and aluminum foil, and bake in a 350-degree oven, until hot throughout
Any breads can be used to make stuffing; wheat, rye, whole grain, etc. This particular recipe goes great with cornbread, and you can also replace the cranberries with your favorite fall dried fruit. Just remember cornbread tends to have a little bit more moisture in it, and will not require as much turkey stock to moisten, while other breads may need more.