Italian Peasant Thanksgiving: Stuffing
Happy Thanksgiving from the DiCarlo Girls!
Ah, Thanksgiving brings out the peasant in me. I have been collecting all the turkey necks from the all the whole foods and cooking them all week. During a recent morning call to my mother during my walk, I told her to make sure she buys plenty of chicken gizzards to make out stuffing for Thanksgiving. And as I love food stories, I asked how we came to use this stuffing recipe and surprised that it never occurred to me to ask before. It has been at our Thanksgiving table ever since we moved to the US so I never really gave it much thought. It is divine and so unlike the American stuffings that are so obsessed with bread and making everything like a dessert. Marshmallows on sweet potatoes? Nothing more ridiculous to an Italian to make things even more artificially sweet. For god's sake, even Italian desserts are not that sweet.
After some thought my mother traced the origins of this stuffing to my paternal grandmother's recipe Afrodite Fiorella Pirozzi (whom I was named after) showed my mother how make this when she visited one year and spent the summer with us when I was about 5 years old. She used it as a stuffing for a chicken they were roasting. My father's family worked the land, raised pigs, chickens, made wine, cured meats and knew how to use the entire animal. We were raised eating pig odds and ends (Read more about my love for Piede e Musso here!), proscuitto hung in our basement, and we jarred our own tomatoes every September.
Quite a simple story really, devoid of my mother's usual absurd stories like my Zia Angolinella who couldn't walk but was an expert embroiderer, sat in a chair (because they couldn't afford a wheel chair and had to hop and drag her chair as she still sat in it to get away from a half blind pig that would sometimes run loose in the palazzo). Yes a much simpler story. And since then we have used this hearty and savory peasant stuffing to stuff our turkey. I will share the recipe with you here.
Italian Peasant Stuffing
2 large packages of chicken gizzards
1 lbs of Sweet Italian Sausage (you can use spicy if you prefer)
1/2 Tbs salt
I cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Celery 3 stalks- cut into tiny cubes
Directions: (without mushrooms)
Boil chicken gizzards until tender- then cut in 1/4 inch piece with scissor put aside
Remove sausage from case and cook on medium heat until well done and separate spices into ground bits as it cooks- drain out oils and fat from pan
Beat 10 large eggs in bowl add pepper, salt, celery in a bowl
Put sausage back into large frying pan and add chicken gizzards and beaten eggs and cook on medium heat and use spatula to move contents around pan (as if to scramble) until eggs are cooked.
Spoon this stuffing into turkey and sew up!