Virgin stuffing

The best kind, for first-timers and seasoned pros alike.

By Paulina Borsook

Published November 21, 2000 9:00AM (EST)

Make a stock, using:

1 turkey neck
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
1 sprig parsley

Simmer for one hour, covered.

Meanwhile, sauté half a pound of coarsely chopped mushrooms in butter over low heat for at least half an hour and up to 45 minutes. Stir from time to time. The point is to shrivel the mushrooms until they are black and gnarly and reminiscent of dried mushrooms. They will have an incredible concentration of flavor, and border on crispy.

While the mushrooms are sautéeing, sauté a quarter-pound of slivered almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Set aside.

In the same pan that the almonds were sautéed in, sauté diced turkey giblets, well seasoned with salt and pepper, until fully cooked. Set aside.

When everything is ready -- stock, mushrooms, almonds, giblets -- mix it with:

4 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely diced dried apricots

Include the butter that's left over in both sauté pans. If there isn't enough butter, including the butter coating the mushrooms, almonds and giblets, to lightly moisten the bread crumb mixture, melt a bit more in one of the sauté pans and stir it in. (But it's hard to imagine you'd need more than a few additional tablespoons.)

Filter the stock through a fine strainer, and start adding it slowly, one-quarter cup at a time, to the bread crumb mixture. A half-cup of the stock is probably enough -- you don't want wet, gummy stuffing. The purpose of the stock is to bind the bread crumb mixture so that it hangs together well enough to be rounded into handfuls and stuck into the bird, but is not the consistency of grout or slurry. As with the addition of butter, the quantity of stock needed will vary with the consistency and dryness of the bread crumbs.

Season the bird well internally with salt and pepper before inserting the stuffing. Any leftover stuffing can be placed in a buttered ramekin and baked alongside the bird.

Paulina Borsook

Paulina Borsook is the author of "Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-tech."

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Middle East Thanksgiving