Category Archives: Thyme

BACON, APPLE, AND CHEDDAR STUFFING..FALL COOKING SEASON HAS BEGUN

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are some pairings and combos that are truly meant for each other.  Let’s start with BACON. I don’t agree it goes with everything.  There, I’ve said it and I’m not taking it back.  i LOVE Bacon..especially American bacon with it’s pork belly fat and smokey goodness.   It really needs to either shine in a dish or on it’s own, or be part of a bigger picture..lofty ambitions for sure especially when I ‘m talking about bread stuffing.  Here’s the thing, and I love simple as well as the fussed..but some American stuffings are terribly bland.  Bump up one ingredient on that list you’ve got something but mushy bread is not a great idea on it’s own.  Here’s my other lecture with regards to this post, this is not my only stuffing, in fact, i hardly ever make a stuffing the same way twice.  So there you go! Basically for Thanksgiving I will make the same stuffing which is a mixture of my own ideas with my Mom’s t-day stuffing.  I use what’s hanging around the kitchen and last night i made some Roasted Chicken halves that were brined in Apple Cider (my favorite Fall ingredient) and roasted along with some Chicken stock.  The stuffing I do in a separate dish, i just like that better, certainly you can always stuff the bird.  No right or wrong. I hate when people feel they need to be slaves to ONE recipe for a type of food..like stuffing.  It’s waiting for you to personalize it!!! Well my little “Chopped” experience, which is basically how I cook started with some stale bread, just natural whole grain white bread sitting on the counter.  Opening the fridge revealed some natural (unsweetened ) apple sauce, and an open bag of shredded sharp cheddar, next to the bacon.  In that moment the recipe developed.  Knowing basics about what really goes well with other ingredients is the building block for me, for any recipe.  Bacon, Apple, and Cheddar all compliment each other.  Can you say TASTES LIKE FALL and not have a combo like that as part of what you are thinking?  I can’t.  Stuffing is the perfect way to deliver these tastes that combine into a buttery, comforting stuffing that will compliment your roast poultry or pork dishes.  Add this to your recipe files as another idea for your stuffings.

MAKES:   4 servings                           TIME: 1 hour

The servings are a “strange” idea because stuffing is usually a spoonful while you are loading your plate up with other sides and the main.  By 4 servings I mean enough for 4 people to have a nice sized portion so use your head here, the more food you are serving doesn’t mean you need more stuffing..however..it’s so good, you may want leftovers, just saying.

1/2 lb chopped BACON (SMOKED)

1 large ONION, small diced

1 cup fine diced CELERY

10 slices of good stale white BREAD  that you’ve torn into pieces or 14 oz. of a cornbread or mixed bread stuffing (the cubes).  Feel free to use a whole wheat if you like.

1/4 cup unsweetened APPLESAUCE

1 tsp. fresh chopped Thyme

1/2 tsp. BELL’S SEASONING (http://www.bellsseasonings.com/BellsSeasoning.html)or 1/4 tsp Poultry seasoning

1/4 stick UNSALTED BUTTER

1/4 cup CHICKEN STOCK(WARM)

1/8 CUP APPLE CIDER (filtered and unsweetened)

1/2 tsp freshly ground BLACK PEPPER

1/4 tsp. KOSHER SALT

1/2 tsp. YELLOW MUSTARD

1/4 cup Shreddded SHARP CHEDDAR

1 tsp UNSALTED BUTTER CUT IN CUBES

In a large skillet/pan heat on medium and add the bacon and let it start to render it’s fat.  Once is starts to crisp up a bit, add 1/2 of the butter and let it melt.  Now add the celery and onions and let this cook on low until the vegetables are soft.  Add the cider and stock and bring to a boil.  Add the thyme.  Let this cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the bread and mix well until it’s a pasty consitency, all hydrated.  Cook stirring for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Into this add the salt, pepper, mustard, Bell’s Seasoning, Applesauce..Blend.  When all is nicely mixed in add the cheese folding it in gently.  Pour this into a baking pan, I use cake pans.  Smooth it down and place the cubes of unsalted butter over the top.  Bake in a preheated OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until it looks like that picture.  Nice and golden.  Remove from the oven and serve with the meal.  If there are any drippings from the poultry, pour some of that over the top too.  Adds more flavor.

Stuffing (dressing in some parts) is an American Classic that for me has no peer.  I may have more ideas for you as the Fall progresses, let’s start with this one. Who doesn’t love BACON???  By the way, the mean was amazing…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I like it richly flavored, certainly, you can alternatively cook the bacon separately and discard most of that fat, just in case that’s your preference, then continue with the rest of the recipe.

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TOMATOES…TIS THE SEASON….

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It’s August, it’s Summer at the Jersey Shore, and it’s all about the Tomato, especially the locally grown ones.  No debating here please, I’m not saying you have to have a Jersey garden grown tomato for it to be good just find ripe locally grown ones that are at their peak right now.  We happen to have very good ones here in the Garden State but I’m not entering into a contest as to what state has the best or not.  I find that confrontational and boring at the same time.  It’s the time to hit your Farmer’s Markets, produce stands, or pal up with a food friend or family member who has grown them in their own yard if you aren’t growing them yourself.

The beautiful plate of tomatoes pictured came from a friend’s yard here in Wayside/Tinton Falls, NJ, less than 2 miles from my home.  HEIRLOOMS.  Again, the foodies-in-the-know will pound Heirlooms down your throat as the only tomato that has any flavor or merit.  They are insanely delicious and come in incredible variations of colors and shapes but they are not the only tomato out there.  Too much foodie bullying going on in the world today, seriously, it’s food, we all can’t get certain types of food in our area, so..I wish more food writers/bloggers, etc would bear that in mind when communicating.  However, those local heirlooms I turned into a simple salad (not a Caprese) that tasted as insane as they looked. Here’s another view..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Slice them, layer them on a plate/platter, drizzle a good Olive Oil over them, chop some fresh herbs, i used oregano and thyme here, but the sky’s the limit..sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. There’s your recipe!  Want more “tang”, add a little vinegar, but a good one, not something harsh, like a White Balsamic or a Sherry or Champagne Vinegar.  Again..take the foundation and run with it DO NOT FEEL RESTRICTED BY THE MOST COMMON SUMMER TOMATO SALADS.  In the end they will only be as good as the tomatoes you are using.

Let’s look at the other tomatoes I have hanging around my house right now…these are garden variety assorted Jersey Grown tomatoes..full of the sun and sweet delicious flavor and gorgeous..plenty of time left to enjoy these jewels from the local gardens, don’t wait, enjoy them while they are at their best.  (P.S. and not ice cold, yikes, nothing kills the taste of a tomato more than ICE COLD)

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