Fruit-and-Nut Stuffing

Fruit-and-Nut Stuffing

Today, Martha stuffs a free-range organic turkey from upstate New York with a fruit-and-nut stuffing that contains neither bread nor rice, the conventional foundations for stuffing. Made from a cornucopia of dried and fresh fruit and nuts, this stuffing, which is rich in vitamins and fiber, offers up a tumult of color, like the floor of the woods just after peak leef-peeping season. Though it contains many ingredients that are not native to the Americas–among them prunes, which originated in Western Asia, currants, which hail from Greece, and macadamia nuts, natives of Australia–its plenitude of ingredients is very much in the spirit of the first Thanksgiving feast, which included ducks, geese, venison, lobsters, clams, and sea bass in addition to turkey. You will need to soak the dried fruit overnight in bourbon (named for Bourbon County, Kentucky), which, aside from the whole raw cranberries in this recipe, is perhaps the most American of its ingredients.

If the nuts are salted, place them in a strainer, run cold water over them, and then dry on paper towels. After you've stuffed the turkey, insert an apple into the cavity to seal it. Sew the turkey with a trussing needle and string. Then truss the turkey with string and poultry lacers– stainless-steel skewers used to secure the stuffing in the neck end of the cavity.

Always take care to stuff the bird just before cooking. To ensure that the stuffing cooks evenly, don't overstuff the bird. Never mix raw meat or vegetables into a stuffing, and don't leave either stuffing or turkey sitting out for more than two hours.

Makes about 10 cups

18 whole pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup dark raisins
24 dried apricot halves
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored, chopped
3 large onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup whole macadamia nuts, unsalted
2/3 cup whole brazil nuts
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups whole raw cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried chervil leaves
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1. Put the prunes, currants, raisins, and apricot halves in a bowl, and pour the orange juice over the fruit. Cover bowl, and soak overnight.

2. Combine the apples, onions, and celery in a large skillet along with four T olive oil. Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the celery is tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet and add the nuts. Toast them, stirring constantly, until golden.

4. Transfer the sautéed onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the macerated fruit, the toasted nuts, and all remaining ingredients. Gently mix the stuffing with 2 large spoons or your hands until evenly blended. Set the stuffing aside while you prepare the turkey for roasting.

5. After the turkey has been stuffed, any remaining stuffing can be cooked separately. Place stuffing in an oiled baking dish, cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until heated through.

From: 11/23/98
Adapted by Patti Vincent