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Thanks 07 Report #3: Adaptation - Kielbasa Stuffed Onions
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
In my blog reading, I ended up at Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Roasted Stuffed Onions, which was taken from November 2002's Gourmet Magazine. I decided I needed to use this, to highlight the sausage I had from Four Mile River Farm, which was going to get schlepped into a sweet and sour sauce, but that didn't feel right. When I saw this recipe, I decided that I was going to skip the bread stuffing mixture (I'm already pretty committed to the Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Pecans at Serious Eats and someone else is making another stuffing, so it'd be too much bread) and replace it with a sausage-featuring stuffing.

These are notes in adapting the recipe, in green. The bits I'm keeping from the recipe will be orange colored. I'll let you know how it goes.


The only thing I'm keeping for sure from this recipe's ingredient list is using the onions to stuff. All the other ingredients I'm scrapping and starting over.

10 medium red and yellow onions (4 lb)
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (14 cups)
1 (9-inch) round loaf country-style bread (1 1/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups), lightly toasted
2 cups salted roasted cashews (10 oz), coarsely chopped
1 stick (1/2cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock

I'm going to use my sausage, but I can't decide about an additional filler. Rice is a promising option, mostly because I've used it in stuffing peppers with ground beef. I think cheese needs to factor into this as well.

In looking for other recipes I could riff off, I also just discovered Google's fantastic recipe search as part of their Base Beta--you can search by ingredients, meal type, calories (!). Very cool.

Anyway, a search of sausage and onion turned up some ideas. Cabbage may be an option, but it's too reminiscent of cabbage rolls. Cheese is perhaps a better option. In fact, in thinking what goes with sausage and onion (correction, it's actually kielbasa, I keep forgetting), I thought of peppers. A cheesy, rice, peppers and kielbasa stuffed onion. Perhaps. I want a farm cheese here, though. A cheddar type or a hard cheese to grate in like Parmesan. That might work really well.

I have to keep the following step. This might be the tricky part, scooping out onion insides. This part can be done ahead, and I think I will, mostly because if I screw it up, I can just scrap the idea and use the onions. Obviously I'd use the insides of the onions to flavor something that's going back inside, but it's a lot of onion, so some of it will probably end up in the cornbread stuffing.

Make onion shells: Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice from tops of onions, discarding tops, and trim just enough from bottoms for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each using a small ice cream scoop or spoon (don’t worry if you make a hole in the bottom), reserving scooped-out onion and onion shells separately.

Don't need these steps, but rather, will replace them!

Make stuffing: Coarsely chop enough scooped-out onion to measure 3 cups. Cook bacon in 2 batches in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, about 10 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving about 1/3 cup fat in skillet.

Chop up a bunch of the onion and caramelize it until golden and reduced. Cook the sausage with the onions. Some spices will go in here, and I'm contemplating using that sumac I got at the farmers market a few weeks ago. I'm sure I'll add garlic, as well. From there I couldn't tell you. Probably some celery, too, some thyme and rosemary, too.

Add chopped onion, celery, salt, and pepper to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in spinach, bread, cashews, butter, 1 cup stock, and bacon, then cool completely.

These steps are a definite keep.

Roast onions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then add 1/2cup water and cover pan tightly with foil. Roast onions in middle of oven until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.

Stuff and bake onions: Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Transfer shells to a work surface and pour off water in pan. Fill shells with stuffing, mounding it, and return to pan. Reserve 5 to 7 cups stuffing for turkey cavity, then put remaining stuffing in a buttered shallow 3 1/2-quart baking dish and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup stock. Bake stuffed onions and stuffing in dish in middle of oven, uncovered, until heated through, about 25 minutes.

So we'll see. It's my one real experiment for this meal, aside from brining the turkey. Although Alton Brown has never let me down and I'm using his process for it, so I'm not too concerned. Although he'll have to be satisfied with powdered allspice, because I haven't found allspice berries yet.

I'll be posting photos throughout the next couple of days, as well.
posted by Rose @ 8:29 PM  
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