April 03, 2014

Turkey & Stuffing Skillet Dinner

A classic turkey dinner is a wonderful thing. Sometimes, however, it's just not in the cards⎯whether it's time or money that you don't have enough of, or maybe it's simply that a full turkey dinner can generate a daunting amount of leftovers. That's where this little "beauty" comes in. Well, actually, as you can see from the picture, this dish isn't really ready for its close-up. Fact is, while I make this several times per year, I just can't seem to photograph it in a way that does it justice. But it is such a tasty little number that I encourage you to try it despite its less than movie-star looks.

Think of it as an innovative pot-pie: silky gravy base with tender chunks of turkey, and a bread stuffing top crust fragrant with sage and thyme. Best of all, it comes together quickly. If you're cooking for just one or two, you'd be hard pressed to find a better stand in for the holiday classic. If you have some chicken gold on hand, by all means use it in place of the same amount of stock for a richer depth of flavour.

Turkey & Stuffing Skillet Dinner
Adapted from Eating Well's Stuffing-Topped Chicken

Serves 4

3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 slices bread, diced into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
pinch celery seed
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 1/2 cups turkey (or chicken) broth at room temperature, divided
700 grams boneless turkey breast (or chicken thighs)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the celery, onion, and garlic. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown at the edges. Add the bread and dry seasonings (except the salt) and continue to cook stirring, until the celery has softened and the bread begins to crisp up, about two to three minutes more. Empty the bread mixture into a bowl, and stir in 1/3 cup of broth (stir like crazy with a fork to get it all evenly distributed). Set aside while you prepare the rest.

Trim any excess fat from the turkey, and slice into medium chunks, as if for a stew. Toss the chunks with salt and fresh sage.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the room temperature broth and the flour until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler of your oven.

To the emptied skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil until it shimmers. Add the diced turkey (or chicken) and the fresh sage, and let cook for about 1 to 2 minutes without stirring. Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the turkey is cooked almost through, about 5 minutes.

Increase the heat under the skillet to high; add the wine (or vermouth) and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until almost all is evaporated, about two minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes more, and then turn down the heat to low and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, to ensure the rawness is cooked out of the flour. Spoon the reserved stuffing mixture evenly over the turkey mixture. Spritz the top of the stuffing with a little canola oil, and transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the stuffing begins to crisp and brown, about 4 minutes, depending on your broiler (keep an eye on it).

Use your largest serving spoon to dish it onto plates or pasta-bowls. Serve with roasted brussels sprouts or baked yams on the side, and a dollop of cranberry chutney on the side for maximum festive flair.

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