Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chestnut, Pear, Cherry and Sage Dressing

For some Thanksgiving is all about the turkey; for me, it is all about the side dishes.  Don't get me wrong.  I love a nice juicy slice of turkey but it is everything that gets piled on the plate along with the meat that gets me the most excited.  The hardest part about living in Albania is my inability to access some of my traditional Thanksgiving (and Christmas) standbys- fresh cranberries and sweet potatoes are not available here and due to their perishability, it is not possible to get them shipped in through the pouch.  (I'm sure at some point someone has tried this but I haven't done it yet. Maybe next year........).

There are still plenty of delicious side dishes that I can make and this recipe for Chestnut, Pear, and Sage Dressing based on a recipe from Williams-Sonoma is just the first of several that I will highlight over the coming weeks.  Not only does this dish bring together some of the tasty and plentiful ingredients that are found here in Albania but it also makes good use of the roasted chestnuts I prepared earlier this week.  The original recipe calls for the inclusion of breakfast sausage.  I omit this since many of our guests do not eat pork.  I also double the recipe since leftover dressing is a vital part of any post-Thanksgiving Day turkey sandwich.


1-pound loaf of rustic bread, torn into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 small pears, cored and cut int 1/2 inch dice
1 cup peeled and chopped roasted chestnuts
1 cup dried sour cherries, chopped
1/3 cup finely chapped fresh sage
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1)  Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and let dry overnight.  Alternatively, toast in a 300 degree F
     oven for 30 minutes making sure the cubes do not burn.

2)  Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a large, shallow baking dish.

3)  In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon butter and add the onion, carrot, celery
     and pear.

Ready for the pan

4)  Saute, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 8 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Melding flavors
Yummy additions

5)   Add the chestnuts, dried cherries, sage, melted butter, stock and salt and pepper and stir to mix.
      Add the bread and stir to combine.
Before the addition of the bread

4)  Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and dot with butter.  Bake until golden and crispy,
      about 1 hour.

Into the oven it goes

Serves 10-12 people.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the finished dressing in all of its golden goodness.  Our guests dug into the dish immediately and there weren't any leftovers. I guess this is a sign of a good dish.  I'll have to make it again and remember to get a picture next time.

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