Tag Archives: Sage

Pass the Prosciutto- Thanksgiving Stuffing Featuring Parma Ham

Pass the Prosciutto

Yes, you can make stuffing with no bread and have it look this awesome!

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There are few holidays that really excite me food-wise as Thanksgiving. First of all, you have the tradition. You can go full bore and serve exactly what the pilgrims ate, or you can do the modern classical Thanksgiving: Turkey, stuffing, various potatoes, token green veg, rolls and pumpkin pie. It’s a virtual carbohydrate bonanza! Over the years, however, various dietary needs have arisen and several beloved family members have been diagnosed with diabetes. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is a disaster for your typical diabetic. Instead of “going without”, I am all about making something equally good from more low carb friendly fare.

My most favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is stuffing. As a kid, there was nothing better than the box of Stove Top Stuffing, amended with sausage and mushrooms and placed on the table. Nothing. Sure, I can laugh now, but back then, you angled to get a seat by the stuffing.  Stuffing by its very nature, however, is a high carb endeavor.

So, I started looking at all the stuffings from the yesteryear for inspiration.  Stuffings with sage or chestnuts or oysters! Oh my! So much to try. So I stumbled upon the recipe below quite by accident. I wanted a touch of richness, a bit of history, and a whole bunch of easy.  One of my go to ingredients when I’m looking for rich and clearly special is Prosciutto di Parma.  It gives a fantastic, complex, flavor without the excess, and rather random amount of fat and smoke that bacon brings.

Initially, I came up with a stuffing with sausage, chicken livers, oysters, prosciutto di parma, seasonings and bread crumbs. There wasn’t a single drop of stuffing left. Everyone ate every last bit and wanted more.  However, the carb count was likely crazy high.  So, I had to turn my focus to the low carb version.   Then, I got an assignment that asked me to concentrate on gluten free cooking that included the amazing Prosciutto di Parma, or parma ham. Could I adapt the my high carb, gluten riddled recipe recipe? Would it work? These questions kept me up at night.

First, my philosophy for low carb is not to make a thin imitation. While you’ll never convince me that pureed cauliflower is mashed potatoes, the dish is really quite good in its own right.   And, more importantly, I don’t miss the potatoes.   My goal for this dish was: good and you don’t miss the original.  How can you go wrong with Prosciutto di Parma, sausage and oysters.  Right?

Let me caution: this stuffing is full bodied and full fat. It’s a go big or go home type stuffing. Everyone who has tried this stuffing in either high carb or low carb form have raved about it. Some people have declined to try it due to the ingredients.   Chicken livers and oysters can lead some to take a pass. More for me, honestly.

The technique I use is really rather unique. I was making the stuffing and decided to take a short cut. I didn’t want whole oysters or pieces of chicken livers in my stuffing for texture reasons, so I figured I would just chop them for a bit in the processor, because, well, isn’t that what it’s for? I quickly learned there’s no level of “a bit” that doesn’t turn the livers or oysters into liquid. So, instead of minced shellfish or livers, I had a lovely red puree.  However, I wasn’t wasting my money by not using the livers or oysters, so I included them in the stuffing. Because these overtly odd ingredients didn’t appear in the stuffing, people were more inclined to try it. And, by extension, love it! Huzzah!  I just got back from Williamsburg, so that celebratory phrase stays!

So, dear reader, I am giving you my famous stuffing recipe. My kids cried that I was using a recipe from the secret family recipe book.  But I will share this one.  Kick the boxed stuffing habit and make your own stuffing.  It will be miles better than anything from a box.  You can make it ahead too! And, depending on the version below you choose, you can actually label this a vegetable side.  You’ll get the joke when you read the ingredients.

Sausage and Oyster Stuffing
Serves: Thanksgiving Crowd (10 or so, easily doubled if you need more)
Prep Time: 15-25 minutes, depending on version made
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Note: Low carb/Gluten free version requires cooked cauliflower, see Cuban Rice and Beans for full prep instructions.

5 chicken livers
6 oysters, shucked
1/3 cup bacon drippings, lard or other high temperature suitable oil
1/2 pound Prosciutto (parma ham), medium dice
1 pound sage sausage
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sage, rubbed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Low Carb/Gluten Free Version:
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, roasted at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until soft and slightly brown, chopped fine

“Regular Version”:
4 cups bread crumbs (gluten free, if needed)

2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place chicken livers and oysters in the container of the food processor and process thoroughly. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat fat over medium heat in a large skillet. And prosciutto and sausage and cook until the sausage is cooked through and both are rendered of fat. Add the onions, celery and mushrooms and cook until the onions and celery are translucent and the mushrooms have lost some of their liquid. Add the garlic and saute until soft. Add the sage and liver mixture. Cook until the mixture is no longer reddish. Add the butter, cauliflower or bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper. Place in an oven dish, cover and refrigerate. To serve, heat in a 350 degree oven until the top is brown and the stuffing is warmed through.

Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world’s most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and Parma Ham. 

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Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Breakfast Sausage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor those of you who have read my rib trimmin’ post, I have my follow up on what to do with all those meat scraps. We like to use everything we can here, so we turned these scraps into INCREDIBLE breakfast sausage.   We ended up with several pounds of trimmings to repurpose.  If you don’t have pork scraps, you can still make this recipe with a pork butt (aka Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder).

One of my favorite breakfast sausages is made by Bob Evans. All things considered, the ingredients aren’t horrible:

Ingredients (7):
Pork, Ham Fresh, Pork Tenderloins, Water, Salt, Spice(s), Monosodium Glutamate

However, the treatment of the pigs and the use of MSG (monosodium glutamate) are highly controversial. The animals are frequently given feed that includes antibiotics that cause antibiotic resistant bacteria as well. To avoid all of this, we tried MSG-free breakfast sausages made with more humanely treated animals that were free from antibiotics. They tasted, well, off. None had the sagey goodness of Bob Evans. The motto in our house is if you want something, you make it. So, my husband did. We wanted wonderfully sagey, MSG-free breakfast sausage made from humanely raised animals that weren’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. He delivered.

My husband came across a great recipe from Alton Brown simply titled “Breakfast Sausage“.  The recipe combines sage, rosemary and thyme.  Alton adds brown sugar, nutmeg and a dash of heat with cayenne and red pepper flakes.  The sausage is really amazing.  We alter the recipe to suit to our taste, and the fact that we have nearly 6 pounds of pork trimmings from our ribs.  If you decide to give this a go, you will never go back to store bought again, I promise.

As a bonus, we made 3 racks of ribs and converted the trimmings into 6 pounds of breakfast sausage, all for under $30.    You can barely get 2 racks of ribs for that price.  Quite amazing when you cut out the middleman and do things the old fashioned way!

The special piece of equipment you will need is a grinder.  We got a grinder attachment for our kitchenaid mixer.  It does a fairly good job, if not overly taxed.  Keep meat in small dice and not too frozen and usually the mixer can keep up.

The key to great sausage texture is keeping the meat cold.   Alton recommends stirring all the ingredients together, then chilling for an hour, then grinding.  We usually have “not quite thawed” pork that we stir the other ingredients into, then grind.


Sage Sausage (rib trimmings version)

6 pounds of rib trimmings
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sage Breakfast Sausage (pork butt version)

2 pounds pork butt (2 1/2 pounds with bone), diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound fat back, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions for both:

Thoroughly combine all the ingredients except the water in a large bowl and chill for at least an hour.  The mixture should be very cold, almost frozen.

Grind the meat mixture and return to the bowl.  Add enough water to make the mixture sticky, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

Form into patties.  In a lightly greased fry pan over medium high heat, cook until completely done, about 15 minutes.   Otherwise, wrap in wax paper and aluminum foil and freeze until ready to use.