“Dressing Up” For Thanksgiving!
Chef Andy Mueller, of Galley 57 Supper Club in Allouez, has some mouth-watering tips for your Thanksgiving preparations!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of a hungry flock of eaters arriving Thanksgiving morning and you still have four or five things left on the prep list.
The turkey’s in the oven, but you miscalculated the timing because this year you stuffed it and it’s not going to be done until four instead of two like you told you’re relatives. You also misjudged the size of your oven and because you had to take the top rack out, you now have no room for the beans, sweet potatoes, or the four pies you aggressively took on this year.
It’s OK, that’s why we start planning now.
First of all, unless you like playing Russian roulette with your guests and their health, I highly recommend you don’t stuff your bird.
There are two reasons behind my advice, the first has to do with health concerns and the second, taste. When you stuff a bird, the mixture is at an optimum bacterial growth temperature as it bakes in the oven. Because it has come in contact with the raw juices from the turkey, and those juices will mix in and find their way to the center, the entire stuffing mixture must be cooked to at least 175 degrees to be safe to consume. This will not only take a lot longer than you had anticipated, but it will also explain the main reason for not stuffing your turkey. By the time the very center of the stuffing reaches 175 degrees, your bird has been cooked far too long to remain juicy and tender. Yes, the dark meat may be palatable, but the white meat is past tennis shoe stage, inching closer to garden hose texture.
If at all possible, make dressing instead of stuffing. Yes, it’s that simple, if it’s inside the bird it’s called stuffing, and if it’s baked outside the bird, it’s called dressing. And dressing has a few secrets that make it fluffy and moist instead of gummy and thick, like the spackle you use to fill holes in your walls.
The key to a moist and fluffy dressing lies in the liquid you add to the bread, spices and ground meat. Some type of liquid must be added to moisten the bread crumbs, but water or stock alone isn’t enough. You must add enough water to barely moisten the mixture, but the addition of melted fat is what makes the dressing lift up and become fluffy.
Fat, for lack of a better term, doesn’t dry out when cooked like water does, and helps create a moist dressing. This addition of fat can come in the form of butter, natural oils from onions, carrots, and celery when lightly sauteed before adding to the mix, or drippings from cooked ground beef or bacon.
If you choose to stay away from too much fat added to your dressing, a healthier approach is to beat an egg or two and add it before you mix your dressing (I use a combination of both). The will act as a leavening agent and give a little lift to your dressing.
To decide if your dressing has the right amount of liquid, it should stay together nicely when you gently pinch it between your fingers.
If it’s too wet, it will fall apart and more bread will have to be added. Start with a little liquid and keep adding as you go, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
The additions to your dressing are limited only by your imagination and can vary from sweet to savory and everything in between.
Tradition suggests using thyme and sage, with a pinch of nutmeg along with cooked ground beef or sausage, minced or ground carrots onions and celery, a little stock and you’re ready to bake. I like to spice it up a bit with dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, or currants, and a few nuts like cashews, walnuts, or toasted pecans.
Be creative, add what you like and make sure you get all the prep work done a couple days before.
Dressed up Dressing
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cut one pound of your favorite bread into cubes, toast until dry or use one pound dried bread crumbs from a package. Place crumbs in large mixing bowl.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat add:
1/2 lb. ground Beef
Cook until cooked through, transfer cooked meat and dripping to a bowl, set aside.
Return skillet to medium-high heat then add:
6 Tblsp butter
When butter melts and starts to bubble add:
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 1/2 cups finely diced onions
Saute for three to five minutes or until onions start to sweat. Remove from the heat then add:
1 cup dried currants or craisins
3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts
Cooked ground beef with drippings
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
generous amount of fresh ground pepper
Add cooked meat and vegetables to the bowl of breadcrumbs then add:
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 large eggs, beaten
Mix ingredients well, add more stock if needed to moisten. Depending on how dry your breadcrumbs are, you may need to add more stock or water. Make sure you can pinch the dressing and it stays together before you bake it or it will be dry. Turn ingredients into a buttered 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and stir dressing to disperse heat, recover and bake for another 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. Uncover and bake for ten to fifteen minutes to get that awesome crust to form around the edges.
Galley 57 has become a favorite Supper Club to many discerning diners in our area. We’re sure you will want to check it out for yourself.
Hours: Tuesday- Saturday 4pm-9pm
Stop in, enjoy a great meal in a relaxed atmosphere, say hello to Chef Andy, and tell him that the Green Bay News Network sent you!