Wild Rice and Chestnut Dressing
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 140 minutes
Wild rice is not a rice at all but the seed of an aquatic grass. Although much of it is now cultivated and harvested by machine, it can still be found wild along the shorelines of lakes and rivers in the American Midwest, particularly in Minnesota. There, Native Americans working from canoes still gather the rice by hand. Jumbo-grade grains are the longest and most desirable for this dressing. Doneness is a matter of personal taste. Some cooks prefer the rice still slightly crunchy, while others like it cooked until it is tender and the ends of the grains have split.
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- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup jumbo-grade wild rice, rinsed
- 3 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cups finely chopped fennel bulb
- 1 Tbs. poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 lb. sliced whole wheat bread, 2 to 3 days old,
toasted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 jar (15 oz.) steamed chestnuts
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups turkey stock
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Directions:In a heavy pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the wild rice and 1 tsp. of the salt. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the rice and let cool.
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Generously butter a large, shallow baking dish.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, chopped fennel, poultry seasoning, thyme and fennel seeds. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the bread, chestnuts, the onion mixture and the wild rice. In another bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Whisk the stock into the eggs, then stir the egg mixture into the bowl with the bread mixture. Stir in the parsley, the remaining 2 tsp. salt and the pepper.
Spoon the dressing into the prepared baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until the dressing is lightly browned on top, 20 to 30 minutes more. Serves 10.
Note: This dressing can also be packed loosely in the body and neck cavities of the turkey and served as a stuffing. Secure the neck flap with kitchen string or pin it to the back with toothpicks or trussing pins. Tying the legs together will help hold the stuffing in the body cavity. For turkeys weighing 16 lb. or less, add 30 minutes to the total roasting time. For turkeys weighing more than 16 lb., add 1 hour to the total roasting time.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Thanksgiving, by Michael McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster, 2001).