Wild Mushroom and Walnut Stuffing
We're continuing our "Feast Week" recipes with this delicious Thanksgiving staple. Stuffing, or dressing, depending on your geographical bent, is as much a part of the Thanksgiving meal as the turkey itself. This year, make use of wild mushrooms and nuts available in your area. For us here in the Midwest, that means the tail end of the season for Hen of the Woods, or Maitake mushrooms. With a deep woodsy, almost smoky, flavor and a firm texture, Hen of the Woods more than holds its own in this stuffing dish. To go along with it, walnuts add another layer of texture and flavor to the recipe.
8-10 cups bread crumbs
1 pound wild mushrooms, chopped (if you aren't an experienced mushroom forager, go with someone who is)
1 cup walnuts, lightly chopped and toasted (toast walnuts in a non-stick pan on the stove top until you can smell a roasted nut fragrance in the air)
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
Sauté the onions and celery on the stovetop in either two tablespoons of butter or olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Remove vegetables from pan, wipe clean and add another pat of butter. Saute the chopped mushrooms until they are soft and start to brown. Add chopped sage and stir for another one to two minutes. In a large mixing bowl, add bread crumbs, walnuts, vegetables and mushrooms. Add two cups of the stock to the mixture and stir well. This texture of this recipe should be crusty on top and creamy in the center, if you think your stuffing mixture needs to be a bit moister, add more stock now. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Once the stuffing mixture is seasoned to your satisfaction, add the beaten eggs and stir well to incorporate the egg throughout the stuffing mixture. Turn the stuffing out into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.