Kitchen Confidential: Secrets to Cooking with Flair

by Pat Nowak

It’s November;  time to think of what to serve for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Do we cook traditionally again or try something new and different? I visited with some up-and-coming chefs—all of them were Level Two culinary students under the direction of Jim Rhegness at Penta Culinary Arts Center. I asked them to share some tips with me to make holiday cooking a breeze, and to provide us with a special recipe for the holiday.

Be sure to be on the watch for some of the young chefs – their culinary savvy is sure to take them places.

Dried Cherry & Sausage Stuffing 

(makes 6 servings)

4 oz. butter

2 ½ c. chopped celery

6 ½ c. chopped leaks

4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped

1 ½ lbs. bulk breakfast sausage

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

1 c. dried cherries

1 c. dried cranberries

1 c. toasted pine nuts

1 6-oz. bag or box of stuffing mix

2 c. chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large

pan, melt the butter. Sauté the onions, celery, leeks, apples

and sausage for 10 minutes (or until sausage is cooked and

broken up). Reduce heat to medium, and add the herbs,

spices, dried cherries, pine nuts and cranberries. Stir until

combined with vegetables and sausage. Add the dried

stuffing mix and moisten with chicken stock. Season with

salt and pepper to taste. Place in a buttered casserole dish

and bake for 45 minutes.

Tipsto make your Thanksgiving meal memorable:

  Brine the turkey to keep it moist before cooking. Do not baste a turkey; it actually dries it out.

If you want to have vegetables with your meal, place the turkey on a vegetable rack with carrots, celery and onions; they will infuse the turkey and be a wonderful addition to the meal.

Place bacon on the turkey breast to keep it from drying out.

Use leftover turkey to make chili for the weekend football games

Mix some cranberries in with your stuffing and use fresh bread to keep them moist.

Use foil pans for serving side dishes

Have a lot of pies (this seems to be a favorite among the students)

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