"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to BLOOM…This is the Element of Freedom"

-Alicia Keys

25 November 2010

A Thanksgiving Recipe

Five years ago, someone left this magazine at the Starbucks that I was working at. It was on its way to the circular file when I rescued it.  With a cake like that on the cover, who wouldn't want to rescue it??? (Actually, the question should be: who would want to leave it behind at a Starbucks??)  I have had it ever since in my Dream Recipe File.  There are several recipes in it (totally including the cake recipe) that I really want to make.  Last year, I finally had the chance to make a stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving.  The recipe was created by Suzanne Goin, who created a holiday menu for Julie Powell, the author of Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes and 1 tiny apartment kitchenThis was before the book came out and the movie.  The stuffing that she made is one that I always thought sounded challenging, but fun to make.

This is the second year that I have made it and I think that I like the process of making it as much as I do eating it.  It is challenging because there are ingredients that I don't use very often and there are a lot of steps, but it is just fun to make.  The key is to buy good food.  I bought a really good bread from Whole Foods, the French Boule, and I used chicken broth that I made.  You know what the most important thing that you can do?  It is actually 2 things:  1.  SHOP AT NIGHT.  Not so late that you risk being the last one in the store, but late enough to beat the after work rush.  Whole Foods was busy on Tuesday night, but nothing like the frantic, nerve-fraying experience I had at another grocery store earlier that day, just to pick up a gallon of milk. 2.  Cook with love.  It will infuse the food with love and good vibes.
{Chestnut Stuffing with Fennel}: 


  1. 1 1/2 pounds country bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
  2. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  4. 4 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick and diced
  5. 1 small rosemary sprig
  6. 1 dried chile de árbol or other dried red chile, stemmed and broken in half
  7. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  8. 1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and finely diced
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  10. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  12. 3/4 cup dry white wine
  13. 2 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  14. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  15. One 10-ounce vacuum-packed jar of chestnuts, very coarsely crumbled
  16. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  17. 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Spread the bread in a single layer and toast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown. Let the croutons cool, then transfer to a bowl. Leave the oven on.
  2. In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over moderate heat until fragrant and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder; coarsely grind.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over high heat, stirring, until crisp, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to moderate, add the rosemary and chile and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion, fennel, fennel seeds and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes; discard the rosemary and chile. Stir in the lemon zest and add to the croutons.
  4. Set the skillet over high heat. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Pour the hot stock mixture over the croutons and toss well.
  5. Wipe out the skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and the chestnuts and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts to the stuffing, season with salt and pepper and let cool completely. Add the eggs and parsley and toss well.
  6. Transfer the stuffing to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and dot the stuffing with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crisp on top. Serve hot.

Make Ahead

Bake the stuffing, covered with foil, for 30 minutes then refrigerate overnight. Heat covered until cooked through, about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 20 minutes longer.

I took the red chile out, as I couldn't find one anywhere and definitely use the jarred chestnuts. They are pricey, but much easier than steaming and peeling and roasting them on your own.  Enjoy the fennel and the fennel seeds, they smell divine!

Today is the day to be grateful.  Grateful for those we love, for those who love us.  Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. I have a recipe file that I generally use for inspiration because I don't think I've ever followed a recipe exactly.

  2. this sounds amazing! i think i'll try it with the chile. you were right to rescue this magazine


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