Getting Carried Away With Stuffing

Culinary students battle in the kitchen for best stuffing recipe. Take a crack at them - if you dare.

The simplest stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey is so easy and delicious that it's tempting to rely on it year after year. Just sauté some chopped onions and celery (butter is yummy but olive oil is fine)  season with salt, pepper and sage and mix it all up with some stale bread cut into cubes. Add some turkey or chicken broth and you're good to go.

But if you're feeling really ambitious, you might want to try these recipes from students at L.A. Trade Technical College's Culinary Arts program. The students used the recipes in a recent stuffing cook-off. Despite their complicated ingredients, they call for boxes of prepared stuffing mix, something more experienced cooks might decide to do without.

Laurie Worthy of Los Angeles took home the top prize, including $100 and bragging rights, with her stuffing cupcakes. The 2nd place prize went to Camille Carlos of Alhambra and 3rd place went to Marcus Beniger of Los Angeles.

Sweet & Savory Southern Bourbon Cupcakes

½ cup diced shallots
½ cup diced celery
1 cup diced chanterelle mushrooms
2 cup diced duck breast
1 cup rendered duck fat
1 cup duck fat diced
¾ cup dried cherries soaked in bourbon
1 ½ sticks of butter
1 organic Fuji apple diced
1 Asian pear diced
¼ tsp fresh sage
¼ cup dark cocoa powder
2 cup turkey stock
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup bourbon
4 eggs, whole
1 cup heavy cream
¼ lb prosciutto
1 box stuffing mix

Soak cherries in ¼ cup bourbon.

Sauté shallot, celery with diced duck fat and ½ stick of butter. After the shallot and celery are starting to brown add the chanterelles & Fuji apple, sauté until slightly tender.


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Add another stick of butter and wait until it is melted before taking it off the flame.

Saute the diced duck breast just long enough to take the rawness out of the breast, about one or two minutes.

In a large bowl, pour stuffing mix and add in all the sautéed ingredients from above along with the rendered duck fat and 1 cup of turkey stock. Stuffing should be moist but not wet.

Take the cherries out of the bourbon and add to the stuffing mixture. Add the diced Asian pear. Mix.

In another bowl add the eggs, heavy cream, cocoa powder and sage. Pour this mixture into the stuffing mixture. The stuffing mixture should be somewhat moist.

Scoop mixture into large cupcake pan.

Place the cupcake pan in a larger pan with water in it. Make sure the water just comes halfway up the sides of the cupcake pan - no more. Bake at 350 degrees until the mixture sets.

While the stuffing cupcakes are cooking, prepare the sauce.

In a sauce pan, mix ½ stick of butter with ½ cup of dark brown sugar. Once the sugar is melted with the butter add in ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream. Cook until it starts to form a caramel sauce. Once it has reached the caramel sauce stage, add in ½ cup of the bourbon. Once the bourbon is incorporated, add in ¼ cup turkey stock. Continue stirring until you have a thickened sauce.

Cool sauce and put into a squirt bottle. Pop the cupcakes out of the tin.

On each plate squirt the bourbon sauce into a beautiful circle. Place the stuffing cupcake on the sauce. Top each stuffing cupcake with a little more sauce. Sprinkle the crispy Prosciutto on top of the cupcake.

Chorizo Stuffing

¾ lb. chorizo sausage, casings removed
2 6-ounce packages of corn bread stuffing
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
½ onion, minced
½ bulb garlic; minced
1 cup butter, unsalted, melted
1 cup vegetable stock (can use chicken stock too)
1 sprig fresh thyme, minced
12 slices Fuji apples (quarter slices)
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large skillet, brown sausage with onions & garlic, breaking apart with fork; remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl or container add stuffing mix, mushrooms, celery, carrots, and cooked sausage; mix well; gradually add in butter & stock to moisten stuffing.

Place stuffing in a greased baking dish and bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes, or until heated.

Quarter apple into slices & place in bowl. Add rice vinegar & seasonings and allow to marinate. Place on sheet pan with parchment paper & bake for 15 minutes or until soft. Place the apples on top of the stuffing as a garnish, and serve.

New Orleans Style Stuffing

6 mirlitons (chayote) – rinsed and sliced in half lengthwise
½ lb. maple or apple flavored bacon diced
1 lb. peeled & deveined shrimp, preferably fresh, size medium
1 lb. lump crab meat
4 ounces (one stick) butter
½ cup diced red onions
½ cup diced white onions
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced red and/or yellow bell peppers
½ cup diced fresh Anaheim or Pasilla peppers (or peppers of your choice)
¼ cup minced garlic
Louisiana-style hot sauce
Creole or Cajun-style seasoned salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
2 cups Cornbread Stuffing
12 pats of butter
4 cups grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese

To garnish the top: 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions or chives

For the bottom: Marinara sauce, any recipe, thick

Preheat oven to 375°

Boil mirlitons (chayote) in water for 30 minutes or until tender.

Remove mirlitons from water, discard seeds utilizing teaspoon, and scoop out center flesh.

Keep flesh and save shells for stuffing. Make sure to remove all excess liquids from boil
and do not tear shell.

Over a direct flame, roast Anaheim/Pasilla peppers until brown. Slice and dice. In a large
cast iron skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until brown and drain off grease.

Add one stick of butter to skillet and sauté garlic, celery, onions, red & yellow bell peppers, and roasted peppers until vegetables are soft (3-5 minutes).

Add the reserved mirliton flesh and chop down the large pieces with spatula while cooking. Cook 15-20 minutes until the flavor is strong. When the majority of liquid is gone from the pan, add the shrimp and cook likghtly, just two or three minutes. Remove from stove.

Season with salt and pepper or Cajun seasoned salt. Stir in hot sauce (to taste) and
chopped cilantro or parsley. Fold in crabmeat very carefully without breaking lumps. Put
entire mixture into mixing bowl.

Add 1 ½ cups of stuffing mix to bowl and lightly stir to absorb all liquids. Stuff all 12 halved mirliton shells with equal portions of mixture. Top the shells with the remaining stuffing mix.

Place a pat of butter on top of each halved and stuffed mirliton. Place all 12 on a buttered

Bake for 25 minutes or until slightly brown. Top with cheese and bake just until it is melted, about three to four minutes.

Remove and top garnish lightly with green onions or chives. Serve over thick marinara sauce if desired.

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