Chef Regan and Dawn Stachler: Owners, Little Hen, Holly Springs

Favorite holiday tradition: We don’t always spend holidays with family. We’ve always done Thanksgiving alone since we moved here, or we’d have people come over. Either way it’s always this ridiculous spread because (Regan’s) incapable of making a small Thanksgiving meal. A couple years ago we had four turkeys because we wanted to try them. Usually the day before we’ll bake, depending on how many pumpkins we have, something like seven pies and give some to neighbors. – Dawn

Essential kitchen tool: I have mini tongs. The big ones are just too cumbersome. And probably something nobody ever talks about is a good towel. – Regan

Typical holiday spread: It’s all very traditional. Green bean casserole — we do it our own way; it’s not so casserole-y. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes. Every year we’ll change up what we’ll do for cranberry sauce. – Dawn

Dish: Mushroom Thanksgiving Stuffing.

Mushroom Thanksgiving Dressing

8 slices white bread (or other bread of your choice)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 small leek
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup chopped mushrooms of your choice (shiitake and crimini make a good combination)
1 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage, thyme and/or marjoram
1 cup chicken or turkey stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Give the pan a shake midway through so the cubes brown evenly. Remove pan and let the bread cubes cool.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until the onion is slightly translucent and then add mushrooms and sauté for 1 more minute. Deglaze with a portion of the stock. Remove from heat and let cool.

Transfer the bread cubes, chopped herbs and the cooked celery and onions to a large bowl and toss to combine.

Drizzle a bit of the stock over the bread cubes and gently mix. Repeat until all the bread has been moistened but not too wet. You might not use all of the stock. You’re just looking to moisten the bread cubes before baking. Don’t let them get soggy.

Butter a baking dish, transfer the dressing to the dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Clean and trim the leek. In a small saucepan, place the leek on the bottom and fill with enough water to cover. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, pinch of white pepper, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Bring to slow simmer and cook till fork tender.

Serve hot, layering dressing on a bed of braised leeks.  

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