Nanny's Stuffing

When Robin was growing up, the turkey was always stuffed with a rice and meat mixture. This is a delicious, flavorful, concoction that Nanny created and has been loved by her sons and, eventually, by her grandchildren.

Ground beef and sweet sausage were browned a day before turkey day and a quick stock was made with the turkey bag of innards (excluding the liver), celery and onions. The vegetables and cooked turkey parts were chopped fine and added to the beef and sausage. This was refrigerated overnight, moistened with some of the strained stock. On turkey day, Nanny would boil rice, slightly cool, and mix with the meat and vegetable mixture along with Bell’s Seasoning, and some of the stock. The mixture was then stuffed inside a turkey and cooked.

We prepare this recipe with chicken, since we don’t want to overdo it with the turkey before Thanksgiving. We do not bake the rice and meat mixture inside the chicken, and we substitute fresh herbs for dried, but the basics of Nanny’s stuffing are still present.

Servings and Times

Serves: 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Tools and Appliances

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We start off by rinsing the poultry parts to be used for a quick stock and putting them in a pot. We cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Meanwhile, we halve the onion and discard the peel. We smash our garlic cloves with the side of our knife (carefully) and discard the peels as well.

When the stockpot starts to bubble, we have ready a plate and our skimmer near the pot. We start to skim the foam and “scum” and dump it onto the plate. We lower the heat to medium-low to keep the stock at a gentle simmer and we add the halved peeled onion and two of the garlic cloves. We continue to cook and skim while the chicken parts and vegetables get tender.

In our dutch oven, we begin heating ½ tablespoon of the olive oil with the other two garlic cloves over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, we add the ground sirloin, breaking it up with our wooden spoon. We continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring often to keep breaking up the meat. We add salt and pepper and cook it through.

Meanwhile, in another pot, we add the rice, 1½ cups of water, a pinch of salt, and the butter. We heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it comes to a boil, we stir again, cover, and lower the heat, pulling the pot off the burner somewhat as our electric stove adjusts. We time the rice 18 minutes.

When the ground beef is cooked, we spread it out on a clean dinner plate. We add the rest of the olive oil to our dutch oven, and quickly with clean scissors, slip off the casings from the sausage. We add the sausage meat to the oil, breaking it up with the wooden spoon. We stir and cook over medium heat for a few minutes to brown the outsides of the pieces of sausage. When the sausage is nicely browned, we lower the heat and continue to cook until cooked through.

While the sausage is cooking, we clean our fresh herbs in a bowl of water. We pat dry and remove the stems. We chop the rosemary, parsley, sage, and thyme all together on our cutting board, yielding about 3 tablespoons. We add this to a prep bowl along with the dried marjoram and set aside.

When the sausage is done, we lower the heat to low and add the cooked ground beef, discarding the garlic cloves. We keep warm on the stove for a few minutes while we get the stock ready.

We check our stockpot – the meat and vegetables are tender. We strain 1 cup of stock out of the pot into a large measuring cup. With tongs we remove the heart, neck, backbone, and vegetables to our cutting board. The rest of the stock we strain and refrigerate for another use.

We remove the small amount of fat from the cup of stock with a spoon. We raise the heat to medium on our dutch oven. The rice is done at this point so we fluff it with our fork. We add half the stock to the meat and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits. We chop the vegetables and heart fine, and shred the meat from the neck and backbone, while the meat and stock boil. When we are done chopping, we have a packed half cup of vegetables and chicken parts, which we add to the dutch oven. We stir in the cooked rice, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the rest of the cup of stock and the chopped herbs.

The roasted chicken is resting out of the oven. We put the pan drippings into a measuring cup and discard the fat that rises to the top. We only have a tablespoon or so of de-greased pan drippings which we stir into the meat and rice dressing to “marry” the flavors. We serve the dressing!

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