Spicy Pear Stuffing (Photo: Tara Hope Photography)

Celebrate with Taste: National Stuffing Day

Story by Michael Vyskocil for YRK Magazine

With Thanksgiving only two days away, you’re likely thinking about or are already well on your way to preparing your Thanksgiving dinner feast. And what could be more closely associated with Thanksgiving than stuffing? The National Day Calendar proudly proclaims Nov. 21 as National Stuffing Day. Although the origins of this holiday are obscure, the varieties of stuffing that you can find are almost endless.

In honor of National Stuffing Day, I’m sharing this recipe for a fruit-filled Spicy Pear Stuffing. This dish gets its spicy flair from the kick of cayenne pepper in the cornbread. You can substitute another type of bread for the cornbread base, but the cornbread plays off the sweetness of the pears and raisins.

Spicy Pear Stuffing

Makes about 10 cups

3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 eight-inch square Sweet and Spicy Cornbread (recipe follows)
1 cup uncooked regular white rice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium pears, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, washed well, dried and roughly chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Cut the cornbread into 3/4-inch cubes and spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring bread occasionally, about 15 minutes, or until slightly brown on the edges. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the rice in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Cook over medium heat until the rice is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the rice and transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pears; cook until slightly soft, about 8 minutes. Add the scallions and raisins; cook until the scallions are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved hazelnuts and rice; cook for 2 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock or broth and cook until the broth is absorbed, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Pour the pear mixture over the cornbread in the mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add the oil and chopped parsley; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool completely before stuffing turkey.

Note: If baking outside the turkey, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth, and bake in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking dish until crusty and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sweet-and-Spicy Cornbread

Makes 1 eight-inch square

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet green bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, eggs, sugar and 8 tablespoons melted butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the pan; let cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: This cornbread, if used for stuffing, should be made one day ahead.

21 Nov