An opening for some creative new stuffings

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Roast turkey is, well, roast turkey. Frozen, store-bought ones anyway. Nothing wrong with that. But chances are, if you went neighbor to neighbor on Thanksgiving Day, and did a little friendly taste- testing, you'd be hard pressed to tell Agnes Johnson's turkey from yours.

But every turkey comes with a great opening and opportunity for creativity. A gaping cavity begging to be filled. Too often this cavern is stuffed with some stodgy, soggy tradition, rather than one's own courageous fling at originality.

If breaking with tradition might bring a threat of appearing on "Family Feud", you can stuff the bird with Grandmother's sacred recipe and pull out the stops for a separate casserole stuffing. (Something more cooks are doing these days for both practical and safety reasons.)

Recommended: Default

Here's where your turkey dinner will be different from neighbor Johnson's. No doubt.

FARCE A LA TAPENADE

Mushroom and olive stuffing from Provence

This recipe is based on one in 'From Julia Child's Kitchen' (Knopf, 1968). We have updated and tested it. And don't let the anchovies scare you off. They simply add a slightly salty air to the final result. Julia Child suggests baking the stuffing in a covered casserole set in a pan of boiling water and basting it occasionally with turkey roasting juices.

1 pound sweet Italian sausages,

casings removed

1 cup minced onion

1 turkey liver, minced (optional)

1 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean,

and diced (A mixture of mushrooms works

especially well.)

1 cup black olives (kalamata or nicoise, for instance),

pitted and chopped

3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, mashed

2 tablespoons capers, squeezed of brine

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf, pulverized

5 to 6 cups croutons (good-quality sliced

white bread dried out in an oven under low

heat or left at room temperature overnight

and cut into cubes)

Salt and pepper to taste

Break up sausage meat and saut in a frying pan over low heat until lightly browned; drain, reserving fat. Place sausage meat in a large mixing bowl.

Return 2 tablespoons of sausage fat to the frying pan (if sausage meat didn't render enough fat, substitute olive oil); saut onions until golden - about 8 minutes; add optional minced liver and saut with onion an additional 2 minutes. Add onion mixture to sausage.

Saut mushrooms in 2 additional tablespoons of sausage fat (or olive oil) until pieces begin to separate from each other; add to sausage mixture. Add olives, anchovies, capers, orange zest, eggs, garlic, and herbs to sausage meat. Fold in the croutons, add salt and pepper to taste.

Loosely stuff front and rear cavities of turkey immediately before roasting, or bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven in a covered casserole.

Makes about 2-1/2 quarts, or enough to stuff a 16- to 20-pound turkey.

ORANGE COUSCOUS STUFFING WITH APRICOTS AND PEPPERS

This colorful offering ran in the Monitor a number of years ago. It proved very popular so here's another chance if you missed it.

2-1/2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons butter

10 ounces couscous

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1-1/2 cups onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup prunes, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander seed

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 cup chopped scallion tops

1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat orange juice with butter in medium saucepan, to boiling. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover. Set aside for 5 minutes; fluff with fork. In large pan, heat oil and add all vegetables except scallions and nuts. Saute over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in dried fruits, spices, scallions and nuts. In a large bowl, combine fruit and vegetable mixture with couscous. May be used to stuff a 12- to 14-pound turkey or baked in a buttered, covered casserole dish for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 30 minutes, in a preheated 325 degree F. oven.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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