In my never ending quest for miniaturized food, I stumbled on Stuffing Muffins! La Belle Aurore’s brainstorm of making muffins out of stuffing gives you a wonderful crispy crust to steamy-soft interior ratio. It’s so genius, we asked for the recipe. Pictured is a batch I whipped up (well not exactly, there’s a bit of chopping involved), or you can order a dozen or two from Dawn, owner/chef at this fabulous farm-to-table restaurant in Niantic. Other savory combinations are available and special dietary needs are happily accommodated with options for gluten-free, vegetarian, even vegan. Call 860.767.6767.
Shitake mushroom, pear & bacon stuffing muffins
1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread
1 pound shitake mushrooms
1/3 pound bacon, diced small
pan spray for greasing muffin tins
10 tablespoons butter
1 large chopped onion
1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup white wine
3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou) plus one whole pear
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup minced chives
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups turkey stock.
1. Tear bread into small pieces and set in roasting pan or bowl. To dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside.
2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a large plate.
3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding bacon
4. Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Add remaining butter to pan. Add pears and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously spray or butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.
Yield: Enough stuffing for two dozen muffin tins
Tags: Thanksgiving, Stuffing, la belle aurore, farm to table, organic