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Wild Rice Stuffing with Cranberry, Apricot, and Scallion


My friend, and great cook, Cathy Elton asked me to contribute to a thanksgiving recipe series on her heart-healthy blog "What Would Cathy Eat?".  One recipe she requested was a "stuffing made without meat or butter".  Not an intuitive leap for this French Culinary Institute-trained, duck-fat-loving chef.

I started musing on wild rice.  Deeply flavored, elegant, and a little unexpected, it is also a really smart choice in the middle of a seemingly endless table of fatty simple carbohydrates.  This nutty whole grain is actually not technically rice, but rather a seed from the aquatic grasses surrounding fresh water lakes in northern North America.  It has twice the protein of brown rice, and almost eight times the protein of white, serving up 6.5 grams in one cooked cup, with 3 grams of fiber.

There is a rich mysterious aroma to the grains, reminiscent of tannins and black tea.  I added tart dried cranberries and apricots, woken up with some light vinegar, which will offset the richness of turkey and gravy.  This dish would also be wonderful for lunch the next day, as a cold rice salad with leftover pieces of turkey added, or made with chicken any time during the year.

And with this smart side dish choice, just think of all the extra pie you can justify.


WILD RICE STUFFING WITH CRANBERRY, APRICOT, AND SCALLION
By Catie Schwalb

Serves 6, can easily be doubled or tripled.

1 1/4 cups Wild Rice, uncooked
2 1/2 cups Stock, Vegetable or Poultry, or water
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup Dried Apricots
2 TBS White Wine Vinegar, plus more to taste
6 Scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced, about 3/4 cup loosely packed
2 large Garlic cloves, slivered
2 TBS Olive Oil
1/2 cup Pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Salt, to taste

Combine wild rice and 2 1/4 cups of stock, or water, in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a fast simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand for 10 minutes, and then fluff with a fork.

In a small bowl, combine cranberries, apricots, 2 TBS white wine vinegar, and 2 TBS warm water. Set aside for about 20 minutes.

Sautee scallions and garlic with olive oil, gently, until just wilted, but not browned.

Drain cranberries and apricots. Thinly slice apricots.

Combine cooked wild rice, pecans, cranberries, apricots, and scallion and garlic mixture, including all of the infused olive oil in the pan you sauteed them in. Season with a generous pinch of salt. Taste. If needed add more salt, a few drops of vinegar, or a little warm stock if it feels too dry.

Can be served cold, at room temperature, or warmed in an ovenproof dish tented with foil.



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09
Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup


The start of the holiday season in my home growing up was always marked by the arrival of a substantial pile of dogeared food magazines next to both sides of my parents' bed, as they hunted for recipe inspiration in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  That tradition has definitely lived on with me (and generally does so year-round), as well as the 2.0 version, in the form of a ever-growing file of bookmarked recipes on my computer.

As I start to put 2010's menu together, here are a few superstar Thanksgiving recipes that I return to again and again, from those treasured November issues.

Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut Gremolata.  A deeply flavored, incredibly rich, yet cream-less soup, that makes you sing the praises of all things mushroom.

Butternut Squash and Polenta Gratin.  A gorgeous, bright orange, creamy revelation.

Yeast-Raised Cornbread Rolls with Corn Kernels and Chives.  The perfect Thanksgiving breadbasket.  Would also make outstanding stuffing.

Duck-Fat Rubbed Roast Turkey.  Not only was this recipe developed by my favorite locavore chef, Bill Telepan, but it cooks in AN HOUR AND A HALF, for a 14 lb turkey.  Year after year it is the best turkey I've tasted, and I'll never use another method.  And the opening up of oven space and time is a gift from the gods.

Pear, Prosecco and Black Pepper Cocktail.  This complex, yet refreshing, holiday cocktail is totally unexpected, but not intimidatingly weird.


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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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