Don’t settle for a subpar bread-stuffing. This recipe for Wild Rice Dressing is not meant to be cooked in the bird, but rather on the stove-top and will outshine the boring stuffing usually seen on Thanksgiving tables.
*Serves 8 to 10 or more, if other side dishes are plentiful
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Toast until fragrant and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes:
6 ounces pecans, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
Meanwhile, simmer, partially covered, in 3 to 4 cups water (start with the smaller amount of water and add more as necessary) until tender but firm, about 15 to 20 minutes:
1 pound wild or black rice
When the pecans are toasted, remove from the oven. Melt in a medium saucepan over medium heat:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Add the toasted pecans and stir to coat them in the sugar mixture. Add:
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Stir until the white sugar starts to melt and the nuts are coated. Pour the nuts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Reduce the oven to 300˚F. Bake the nuts until dry and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Trim, halve lengthwise, and clean:
3 medium leeks
Thinly slice the leeks. Melt in a large skillet over medium heat:
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender.
Clean and chop:
1 pound mushrooms of your choice (I used shiitakes and button mushrooms)
Add the mushrooms and cook until they release water and the water evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the cooked rice with the leek mixture. Season to taste. Place the rice in a serving dish and sprinkle the pecans on top.
*Note: You can make the candied pecans up to a week in advance, and you can cook the rice up to three days in advance.
Image courtesy of John Becker