The holiday meal is often a time to flex your culinary muscles and impress guests with something a bit special. It’s also the time of year when we have firm favourites; dishes that it just wouldn’t be the holidays without.
How do you decide? Tried and true, or experiment with something new?
We threw down the gauntlet and Ron Vincent and son Zachary were willing to take on the challenge. Both chefs at Ron’s restaurant, Sea Glass Waterfront Grill, the pair squared off against each other with that essential turkey accompaniment: stuffing! There’s nothing wrong with a little kitchen rivalry as long as it’s in the name of delicious. Join us in the kitchen at Sea Glass for a Seaside Magazine Stuffing Showdown!
Judgement: we had photographer Cassidy do a taste test for us. Her verdict? Both delicious! Which will you prefer?
Try Them Both for Yourself!
Chef Ron: Growing up, I was never a fan of stuffing. It wasn’t until I was in chef school that I really started to appreciate it. In fact, I would say that a good stuffing is the best part of a turkey dinner!
Over the years, I’ve played around with different ingredients and this is one of my favourite combinations. For me, stuffing is a savoury bread pudding so I like to add eggs to mine. I really enjoy the combination of the nuttiness from the pecans, the tart sweetness of the cranberries and the savoury flavours of the herbs, vegetables and turkey stock. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a good stuffing when you walk in the door on a cold winter afternoon. It smells like home.
Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
1 loaf cranberry sourdough, cubed (6 cups)
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, shredded
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup butter + 2 tbsp
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 cups turkey stock
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
Melt 1 cup butter in saucepan. Sautee onion and celery until soft. Add thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Deglaze with turkey stock. Put aside.
In a large bowl combine bread, pecans, carrot, vegetable/stock mixture and eggs. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Using the 2 tbsp remaining butter, grease a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and put stuffing mixture into it. Cover with foil and bake for ½ hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional ½ hour at 350°, until golden brown. Remove from oven and keep warm.
Chef Zach: We were asked to explain what made our stuffing the best, and although mine isn’t super complicated or extravagant, I think it’s the best for me because it brings back memories of how we did Christmas dinner when I was young. The smell of the savoury brings back so many wonderful memories. A lot of our family friends and neighbours were from back east, and my mother had lived there for a short while when she was young so we had a lot of eastern Canadian influence in the kitchen.
We didn’t always have a traditional turkey dinner. We would often have a “Jiggs dinner:” a full house of family and friends gathered anywhere in the house they could find a spot, to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. There were two rules to those dinners: 1. If the front door was open, make yourself at home and grab a plate; and 2. Always thank the cooks for the wonderful food you were about to enjoy. For me and many others the dressing was an integral part of it. It just wouldn’t have been right without it!
2 cups coarse bread crumbs, mixture of white and
whole wheat pressed down lightly
2 tablespoons of savoury
1 medium white onion, brunoised (finely diced)
6 tbsp of butter
¼ cup of chicken bouillon, in case the dressing is too dry
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Mix bread crumbs and savoury in a bowl. Saute onion in butter on medium heat until soft. Add onion and butter to bread crumbs and mix well. If the dressing is too dry add the bouillon a tablespoon at a time until you get to the desired consistency. You want it to be moist, but not too wet. Salt and pepper to taste to finish.
Place the dressing into a greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Everything is cooked so you only need to heat through.