Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thanksgiving Preparations

Thanksgiving is Coming!
Top Secret Mashed Potato Sausage Stuffing





Every other year, my entire family descends on us for a grand Thanksgiving meal at our home in Brooklyn.  For our daughter it is complete utopia -- with 10 cousins running around our townhouse for 3 days straight -- she couldn't be happier.  It's chaotic, noisy, boisterous; but it's plenty fun.



The beauty of Thanksgiving is that, aside from the turkey,  and if well planned out, most of the dishes can be prepared ahead of time, even certain mashed potato dishes! I look forward to presenting some of my favorite autumnal dishes in the coming weeks.

But first, at the risk of getting in a good deal of trouble from my in-laws, I am going to expose the family's top secret mashed potato sausage stuffing recipe. I have received so many requests for the recipe of this dish that, one way or the other, I am spilling secrets!  But, shhh -- you didn't get it from me!!

It's easy, but takes a little time. Here's how:


What you will need:

Potatoes (at least one, per person)
1 round ring of Italian cheese sausage (you can mix in a couple links of hot or sweet sausages too)
1 turnup (optional)
2-3 freshly made large mozzarellas
butter
cream
salt/pepper
Large glass or ceramic Casserole Dish


Prepare a large bowl of mashed potatoes by peeling and quartering the potatoes. Boil them just to the point of softness (they are going to cook again in the oven so its best if they are not too mushy). I sometimes add a quartered turnip to the potatoes; it provides a nice subtle flavor and creaminess.



I prefer using a ricer to mash the potatoes, it mashes them evenly without over mashing. 

Add in butter, cream (or milk), salt and pepper.  Be generous with the butter and cream - it's ok if they are a little loose as the moisture will be baked out in the oven. Put them in refrigerator till cool, or overnight.  It is much easier to work with chilled mashed potatoes.


Remove the sausage meat from its casing and sauté in a large skillet.  Constantly stir to break the meat up, it should form a small pebble-like texture.  


I prefer to use freshly made whole milk mozzarella, but store bought or even low moisture mozzarella also works well. 


Build layers in a large casserole dish, starting with the chilled mashed potatoes...  


...then the sautéd sausage...


...then mozzarella.



Repeat this sequence of layers until the top of the casserole dish has been reached. The top layer should be potatoes.  If mozzarella is on top, this layer can be a bit tough.  If you wish to be extra decadent (and if no one has heart disease in your family) you can add a middle layer of artisanal  butter.




At this point, the casserole can be placed in the oven and baked for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Or, it can be placed in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or the freezer for up to 2 months.





Tips:

If using quality fresh ingredients, this dish is fairly fool proof.

Consider trying this dish with sweet potatoes. Together, sweet potatoes and sausage pair quiet nicely.  Instead of mozzarella, use Gruyere cheese.