This Hazelnut Brown Ale Caramelized Leek Stuffing recipe plays up the flavors of Fall and the pacific North West, furthering the comfort factor! It uses sweet caramelized leeks, onions, shallots and garlic ask a backbone, enhancing the maillard reaction with a melanoidin rich American Brown Ale mixed with delicious toasted hazelnuts. Ground pork is transformed to a crumbled sage spiked sausage, made right in the pot, getting the flavoring just right, complementing the beer style and enriching the bread stuffing. Using a rustic Italian style bread, Cibatta, the slightly soured milk infused bread if full of irregular holes, creating perfect stuffing, as the crumb will soak up the beer | sage sausage | caramelized onion mixture and create a beautiful golden crust. Another great example of why to cook with beer for Thanksgiving.
This recipe makes a wonderful side dish to a Thanksgiving Feast. Yet it can also be made though out the year. It’s a perfect way to use stale bread
To Stuff or Not To Stuff:
I love stuffing… But should we still call it stuffing? We should not stuff this seasoned bread mixture into our beer brined turkey?!?! Why? It takes the turkey longer to cook, as a stuffed turkey weights now and has a extra thickness to fully and safely heat through. As it is, a turkey is a big bird. The breasts and leg | thighs take art and skill to perfectly cook. Having the chest cavity filled with extra mass, that also needs to be brought to a safe cooking temperature, escpecially given that the bread stuffing is inside poultry. The turkey meat and inside stuffing needs to reach at least 165°F | 74°C. The 3 – 4 hours it takes for the turkey to come up to the correct cooking temperature is more than enough time for the stuffing to be at an unsafe temperature. In the culinary world, the food danger zone is when a food has been sitting in a temperature range between 40°F | 4°C – 140°F | 60°C for more than four hours. This is just one reason it is best not to stuff your beer brined turkey.
By instead placing the Hazelnut Brown Ale Caramelized Leek Stuffing into a baking pan | dish, it increases the surface area of the bread mixture, giving it more exposure to the heat of the oven. This extra heat contact has a wonderful result, it creates a outstanding crust on all the nooks and crannies of the bread pieces.
Serves: 8 – 12 hungry guests
Hazelnut Brown Ale Caramelized Leek Stuffing
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This is my version of the classic North Western styled Hazelnut Brown Ale Caramelized Leek Stuffing recipe. It's full of flavor and wonderful side dish to a Beer Brined Turkey.
Take the bread loaves and cut them up into 1 inch cubes and arrange them in a single layer onto sheet trays or baking sheets with a rim. Let this sit out overnight to dry out the bread, making the bread become a sponge for the stuffing to get its great texture later. Alternatively, place the sheet trays into a 250°F | 121°C oven and slowly dry out the bread for about 45 - 60 minutes.
Caramelized Leek Directions:
Place a large Dutch-oven or large pot over medium heat, add the butter and fat, letting the butter melt. Add in the leeks, onions and salt; stir to coat in the fat and let wilt for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the shallots and cook until the onions are a light golden color and caramelized, about another 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Deglaze the pot with the Brown Ale, using the edge of a spatula or spoon, scrape any brown bits from the pot. Remove the pot from the stove and pour all the vegetables into a large wide bowl.
Making the Stuffing Directions:
Place the Dutch-oven back over the heat and carefully pour any residual fat from the vegetables back into the pot. If there isn’t enough fat, add another ½ stick of butter. Add the ground pork (depending on the surface area of your pot, this might have to be split into two batches) and salt, browning the meat, until the meat is fully cooked and starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the sage, thyme and toasted hazelnuts and cook for another few minutes. Pour this mixture in the bowl with the cooked vegetables and stir to combine. Add the stock to the pot, to rinse any remaining flavor, then pour into the bowl, stirring all the ingredients together. Add the dried bread to the bowl. Using rubber gloves, as the pork will be warm, squeeze the bread and mix the stuffing together, letting the bread soak up all the stock. The bread should become soft, if the mixture is dry, add more stock to achieve this texture. Season well with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350°F | 177°C. Transfer the stuffing into a lightly buttered or greased casserole pan and lightly pack the mixture into all the corners and level it out as best as possible. Place this in the center of the oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until the stuffing is steaming and the edges are a crispy brown color. Serve immediately, or wrap with foil and keep warm for service.
Cooking Beer Suggestions:
I love this style of beer! I wish more breweries would find a way to educate the public on the pure joy about this beer style and what a treat it is to drink and cook with! So I'll help were I can! Really this style of beer is wonderful. It has a rich toasted bread, caramelized toffee, caramel undertones with a clean, drying finish, not sweet, not roasty, but savory in it's essence. It has just enough hop bitterness to balance out the malt forward brew, while retaining lots of character from the kilned barley. It does amazing this to recipes. Mixing a bite of this stuffing with a beer brined turkey is alchemy at it's finest.