This recipe produces a stuffing that is both delicious and beautiful to present to your guests. Although less traditional than bread-based stuffing, it can be baked inside the bird or on its own in the oven (I personally have never baked any of my stuffings inside the turkey, but I know that this is very much an individual preference, so I'm not even going to try to make a recommendation as to what you should do). I'll have my variation on the traditional stuffing posted in a week or so, so you will have two to select from. This dressing recipe will also work throughout the year as a versatile side dish. Here are my notes:
- The recipe calls for a long grain and wild rice blend. If you can't find them already mixed together, then by all means purchase them separately and measure 1 1/4 cups each. In this case, you will need to read the individual cooking times on the instructions, as you might need to start cooking the wild rice 10-15 minutes prior to adding the long grain. Wild rice usually takes a bit longer.
- If you don't have dried cherries available, dried cranberries or Craisins will work very nicely.
- Regarding the fresh vs. dried thyme, refer to my note about using fresh or dried herbs in my Spinach-Artichoke Dip posting (also posted today).
- This recipe can be prepared one day ahead of time, and then reheated, covered with buttered foil, in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries, Apricots, and Pecans Serves 8-10
6 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups long grain and wild rice blend
1 six-ounce package dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until brown, 10-15 minutes. Add the 4 1/2 cups broth to the saucepan and 1 tablespoon thyme and bring to a boil. Add the long grain and wild rice mixture to the saucepan and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the broth is almost all absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Stir the dried apricots, dried cherries, raisins, and remaining 2 tablespoons thyme into rice mixture; cover and simmer until the remaining liquid has been completely absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the rice. Mix in pecans. Season generously with salt and pepper.
To bake stuffing in turkey: Loosely fill the main cavity with cool stuffing. Butter a glass baking dish. Spoon the remaining stuffing into the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish until heated through, about 20 minutes.
To bake all of stuffing in the baking dish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13X9X2 inch glass baking dish. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
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