Butternut Squash & Apple Stuffing

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I’ve never been a big fan of stuffing. The seasonings and texture just didn’t appeal to me.

Then again, I had never made my own stuffing from scratch. And since I’ve already decided that I’m making a turkey this Thanksgiving, it seemed only fair to give stuffing another shot.

Somehow, this stuffing manages to be both sweet and savory all at once, and not nearly as mushy as your typical stuffing. We had it this weekend with some roast chicken (which is a whole other story), and I am happy to report that I loved it! I know what stuffing we’ll be serving with our turkey this Thanksgiving!


Butternut Squash & Apple Stuffing

1 loaf sourdough bread, cubed (about 9 c)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½” cubes (about 8 c)
1 c chopped onion
4 medium apples, diced
6 T olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 T + 2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp sugar
3 c vegetable stock
4 eggs
4 oz white cheddar cheese (I used goat cheddar)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F.

On a cookie sheet, bake the bread cubes at 450F for 8-10 minutes, until toasted and crisp.

Toss the squash with 1 T oil, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and 2 tsp cinnamon. Roast at 450F for 18-20 minutes until soft and browned.

Decrease the oven temperature to 375F.

While the squash cooks, heat 5 T of oil over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the apple and sugar to the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are caramelized, about 10-12 minutes. Low and slow is the way to go here!

In a large bowl, mix the bread, squash, onions and apples together.

Whisk together the eggs, stock, allspice, nutmeg and the rest of the cinnamon. Toss with the bread mixture. Bake in a large baking dish for 40 minutes at 375F, until the top is golden.

Grate the cheese over the stuffing and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

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Let’s Talk Turkey

Let’s talk turkey. Specifically, Thanksgiving turkey. In my quest to eat ethically and locally, I decided that the only way I was serving turkey on November 25 was if I chose one raised ethically and sustainably.

In order to do so, I logged onto Ithaca’s latest local foods resource, Harvestation, and read up on my turkey options. On the day before Thanksgiving, I will be getting my fresh heritage turkey directly from a farm in Romulus, NY.

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[Source]

Why choose a heritage turkey?

Typical grocery store turkeys are broad-breasted white birds. Often factory farmed, these turkeys are typically fed grain instead of their natural diet of bugs and grasses, They are bred specifically to grow quickly and to have more breast meat than most birds. As a result, broad-breasted white turkeys are unable to mate naturally, and many have difficulty running, let alone walking. Plus, since they are all the same genetically, illness could easily spread through all of them, wiping out the entire breed.

It’s a different story with heritage turkeys. Though they bordered on extinction 20 years ago, heritage breeds are slowly coming back into the picture. These turkeys are allowed to move around and graze outside, eating their natural diet. There is less breast meat than from a grocery store turkey, but in exchange the meat tends to be more flavorful and juicy since they are allowed to grow at a natural pace and eat the naturally intended diet. Because they can mate naturally, there is more genetic diversity among heritage turkeys. This means that they are unlikely to be wiped out as a species should illness crop up.

So, to sum it all up:

Broad-Breasted White Turkeys

  • PROS

    • More breast and white meat
  • CONS

    • Often factory farmed (exceptions may apply to turkeys labeled sustainably-raised or organic) and not allowed to eat their natural diet
    • Cannot mate naturally, providing very little genetic diversity in the breed
    • Bred to grow quickly and have more breast meat, so it is difficult for them to run or walk and impossible for them to fly

Heritage Turkeys

  • PROS

    • Typically more flavorful and juicy
    • Often more humanely treated (allowed to spend time outside and eat their natural diet)
    • Able to mate naturally, run, walk and fly
    • More genetic diversity
  • CONS

    • Less breast/white meat
    • May be more expensive since it takes longer for the turkeys to grow to size

Want to know where you can get a heritage turkey for yourself? Check out these resources:

http://www.heritagefoodsusa.com/

http://www.localharvest.org/

Your local Farmer’s Market

Just a note: Since heritage turkeys are harder to find, you usually need to order in advance. But it isn’t too late–you can still order now!

What’s going to be your main course on Thanksgiving? Do you think a heritage turkey is worth the extra cost? Leave a comment — no judgments here!


Resources:

http://www.localharvest.org/features/heritage-turkeys.jsp

http://www.sustainabletable.org/features/articles/thanksgiving/

http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/turkdefinition.html

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle