Ask Chef Phyllis
For years, our parents roasted a 25-plus pound turkey that my mom started to cook at 2 A.M. That very large bird was more often than not dry and tough. The side dishes saved the day. Momma made a delicious sausage and Italian chestnut dressing that was bread stuffing. Now with new additions to our family, we need a gluten-free stuffing recipe this year, but something that tastes just as good. We also had a request for a “made from scratch” succotash recipe. Can you recommend a good stuffing that doesn’t require bread?
—Rose and Joseph Trigiletti from Oakland, New Jersey
There’s an excitement attached to Thanksgiving, our food-focused tradition of giving, friendship, and love. Some say this holiday is the most important meal of the year. I agree. Nothing says tradition like roasting a huge Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings. But I encourage my readers to roast 2 smaller hens, which are more tender, instead of a huge tom. As a bonus, you get to sleep later than 2 A.M.
My suggestion is to look for 2 (10–12 lbs.) turkeys that either fit in your large roasting pan or side by side in 2 smaller casseroles—but test the casseroles beforehand to make sure they fit in your oven. Not only does this address the time element (a 12-lb. bird cooks to perfection in about 4 hours), you’ll also have extra thighs and drumsticks to please your guests. Chef’s note: To prepare your turkey, follow the package instructions. A good rule of thumb for perfect turkey is 15 minutes per pound at 325°F.
The following recipe for sausage, rice, and mushroom dressing is gluten free, delicious, and easy. For a vegetarian take, eliminate the sausage by substituting it for the sweet flavor and meaty texture of chestnuts.
Here’s some good advice: plan ahead and make ahead whatever else from your menu that will keep a day or 2 in your fridge. Don’t stress yourself—it’s enough on Thanksgiving day to roast the birds, make the turkey gravy, and whip the cream for your pies. Make it easy and make it a Thanksgiving to remember!
Sausage, Rice, and Mushroom Dressing
For the rice in the following recipe, you’ll want ⅓ cup raw rice per guest, plus 2 cups water for each cup of rice. Serves 12–16.
4 cups organic raw brown rice
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 lbs. mushrooms, sliced (I use Italian crimini brown mushrooms)
1½ pounds bulk Italian sausage with fennel, or 1½ lbs. canned chestnuts, chopped
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
- Prepare the rice by boiling 8 cups of salted water in a large pot on high heat. Add the rice. After the water returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for approximately 18 minutes, partially covering the pot until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Do not stir.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. Add sliced mushrooms and brown until they’re golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- In the same skillet, add the bulk sausage. Break it up as it browns. Cook about 6–8 minutes.
- Add the diced onions. Brown them with the sausage until translucent and soft. Turn off heat. Add the mushrooms back into the skillet.
- Mix the sausage, onions, and mushrooms into the pot of cooled rice, checking and correcting the seasonings if necessary. Spoon all of it into a large buttered casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for about 45 minutes while the turkeys rest. Tent the turkeys with foil and a heavy towel to keep them warm.
- Chop the parsley and sprinkle it over the top of the nicely browned casserole.
Colonial Style Succotash
A word about the Colonist’s original recipe—it contained meat (venison or game) as well as beans and corn. You may eliminate the bacon or salt pork if you choose to make this a vegetarian dish, but it should be noted that the bacon adds a great smoky flavor. Serves 6.
5–6 ears sweet corn (as fresh as you can get it)
4 slices bacon or salt pork pieces
3 lbs. unshelled lima beans or 2½ lbs. shelled fresh lima beans
5–6 tablespoons butter
Sea salt and lots of freshly ground coarse black pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
- In a large bowl, scrape the corn with a knife and as much of the milk from the cobs as you can. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add bacon or salt pork, then add the lima beans. Cook until the beans are just tender, about 10–15 minutes. Drain.
- Remove and chop the bacon. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add chopped bacon and beans, then add the corn and its milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For a creamier succotash, add the heavy cream. Serve immediately.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Photo by Phyllis Quinn
One thought on “Roast Turkey with Sausage, Rice, and Mushroom Dressing: A Thanksgiving to Remember”
Great idea, Phyllis! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!