Gene Amole, the late and much-beloved Denver native, radio DJ and Rocky Mountain News columnist, wrote many dozens of columns for that sadly departed newspaper, but the one with his recipe for turkey stuffing was the sizzler. According to an editor’s note in the Nov. 4, 1982, edition, the recipe was “the most-requested column from the Rocky Mountain News files.”
His recipe is here, with the directions in his words.
Gene Amole’s Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing
17 slices of white bread (or use a package of dried bread cubes)
3 slices of dark, Jewish pumpernickel (don’t leave this out)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sage, thyme or poultry seasoning
1/2 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cups thick-sliced mushrooms
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
1 cube unsalted butter
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
3 tablespoons cream sherry
First, open a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. Actually, any brand will do, but Harvey’s is the best. Have yourself a little nip and then pour exactly 8 ounces into a measuring cup. Put it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Take the bread slices and cut into crouton-size cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the pepper, salt and sage or poultry seasoning. Brown and crumble in a skillet the two sausages, out of their casings if applicable. After thoroughly mixing the sausage, remove with slotted spoon and put in the big bowl.
Add the celery, onion and walnuts; throw in the parsley and mushrooms. Add the apple pieces. I know what you are thinking. You are concerned about the pumpernickel and the Italian sausage. Just seems out of character, doesn’t it? Trust me. And you probably want to sauté the onions and celery. Don’t.
Every time I make this stuffing, I am reminded of Chinese philosopher Lao-tze’s observation about bean sprouts. “They should be firm but yielding,” he wrote. So should the celery and onions in this dressing. The nuts and apple will retain a nice crispness, too.
Heat the butter and broth together until the butter melts. Pour the liquid into the bowl. Do not mix yet. There is one more important ingredient. Right you are! It is the sherry. Never forget the sherry. Very carefully pour 3 tablespoons of sherry into the bowl. Sip away at the sherry you have reserved in the measuring cup.
Carefully toss the stuffing with two wooden spoons until all ingredients are evenly mixed. Do not bruise the sausage! If mixture is too dry, add warm water. Food science no longer recommends stuffing the bird. We make up the recipe and bake it in a ceramic casserole dish. I guess that makes it dressing as opposed to stuffing — whatever you call it, it’s good.
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For his part, my father made the best mashed potatoes, on Thanksgiving or anytime of the year. He bequeathed some tricks, however, that make all the difference. First, use a combination of waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold) and russet potatoes. The russets provide “loft,” but the goldens taste as if butter already had been bred into them in the field.
Second, after they’re done boiling, steam away any residual moisture from them. The potatoes must be dry before both mashing and adding the cream and butter. Any leftover water both dilutes the flavor and makes the mashed potatoes, well, watery.
Third, at the very least, additions of any sort must be room temperature or, better, warmed. (The cream and butter ought be hot.) You won’t get the salt ratio right if the potatoes are cooled down when you mash them and then add seasoning. And fourth, mash them or rice them or push them through a food mill, but don’t food-processer them. The latter is difficult to control (they can get gummy in an instant) and, besides, batching them cools them down.
My Dad’s Mashed Potatoes
4 pounds potatoes, a 50/50 mix of “waxies” (such as Yukon Golds) and russets
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Peel and cut up the potatoes into same-size chunks. You may retain as much potato skin as you like for flavor, texture or nutrition. Skins-on changes looks only.
In a large pot, cover the potato pieces with 2 tablespoons salt and cold water and bring to a moderate boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until a knife easily pierces a chunk.
Meanwhile, in a small pot mix together the cream and butter and slowly melt the butter, not allowing the liquid to boil or foam.
When cooked through, drain the potatoes in a colander or by using the top of the pot cracked just enough to let the water out. Return or keep the potatoes in the pot, without its cover. Place atop a slow fire (or in a heated oven) and let any residual moisture steam away.
Stir the cream and butter mix and add about half of it to the potatoes in their pot. Smash away, adding more of the cream and butter mix until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy but still have some lumps within.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (you may use white pepper). Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven (no more than 250 degrees).
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Finally, here is a link to a video that the videographer Amy Brothers and I put together illustrating how to roast a turkey. It is the most-viewed segment in our youtube.com “Let’s Get Cooking” series for The Denver Post.
Happy Turkey Day.
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