Low-fat stuffings lose the butter, not the flavor

November 11, 1992|By Susanne A. Davis | Susanne A. Davis,Universal Press Syndicate

When we began the task of creating low-fat stuffings, the fat-cutting technique was obvious.

A look at traditional recipes showed that the butter was usually measured in sticks, not tablespoons. By substituting chicken stock, wine, fruit juices or a combination thereof for the melted butter, the fat content in the following recipes has been radically reduced.

We worried, however, that the cooking juices from a roasting turkey would turn a low-fat stuffing into a high-fat dish. But it turns out that while the bird's juices do provide the stuffing with plenty of flavor, they add little fat. The fat that accumulates in the pan is primarily from the dark meat, which lies beneath the stuffing during cooking.

The following recipes will make enough to stuff a 12-pound turkey; quantities can be doubled or halved for roasting chickens, capons or larger turkeys. The stuffings can also be cooked separately. Cover and bake in a lightly oiled casserole in a 325-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until heated through. If you would like a crisp top for bread stuffing, remove the cover for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Corn bread stuffing Serves 8.

Toasting the walnuts for this recipe brings out their flavor.

Corn Bread

1 large egg

1 1/3 cups skim milk

1 cup yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose white flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stuffing

1/3 cup walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup dried currants

1/3 cup port wine or medium-dry sherry

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or sage

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 1/2-2 cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock

Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make corn bread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch square cake pan with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg lightly, then add milk, cornmeal and oil; whisk well. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the flour mixture just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading to edges.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

To make stuffing: Using your fingers, break corn bread into coarse crumbs and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Spread walnuts on pie plate and bake for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool and chop coarsely. Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery and onions; saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to a large bowl and add the toasted corn-bread crumbs, walnuts, currants, port or sherry, parsley or sage, and thyme. Toss well. Drizzle 1 1/2 cups chicken stock over the crumb mixture and toss until evenly moistened. If baking in a casserole dish, add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 cups, enough to stuff one 12-pound turkey or enough to serve 8 as a side dish.

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