The Wood Sisters’ Pork Stuffing
This Thanksgiving I stuffed my vegetarian, pasture-frolicking, creep-free turkey with one of my most delicious family traditions. Standard fowl treatment for my great-grandmother, grandmother, aunts and mother, this classic French-Canadian stuffing tastes best when made by the lovely and benevolent Mrs. Smith, or as my father and I refer to her, the Saint. Her genuine faith in humanity, a career dedicated to improving the lives of others, her healthy lifestyle and a distaste for inappropriate men’s jokes can occasionally make us look rather bad in comparison. As you can surmise, we do not poke fun at my slightly terrifying mother.
This is a versatile recipe that can, with one alteration, fill a phenomenal pork pie. My mother used to work with a few gentlemen from the enigmatic French Canada, who fondly recalled stories of their time as altar boys in a Franco-American parish; “at midnight mass on Christmas the locals, having celebrated all night with brandy, cognac, and cigars, and fortified with a couple of pork pies, would present themselves at the communion rail, gaze heavenward, extend their tongues, and bowl the altar boys over with their breath. And there isn’t even any garlic in the recipe.” It’s truly a happy Thanksgiving when you head to bed not only with a delightfully distended belly, but also the assurance that your food coma won’t be delayed by any misguided amorous propositions.
2 lbs ground pork
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 sleeves saltine crackers, finely crumbled
2 tbsp shortening
2 tsp Bells Seasoning
Heat the shortening over medium-high in a large saucepan. Once it’s hot, add the onions and sauté until they’re soft, but don’t let them brown. Then crumble in the pork , mix it in with the onions, and cook it until there’s NO PINK to be found. Recovery from undercooked ground pork is a miserable and unattractive process. After browning (graying, actually), add enough water to the pot to cover the pork completely, reduce the heat to low, and simmer it for an hour. Then cover the pot and stick it in the fridge overnight.
Good morning! Time to pick off any visible fat deposits from the top of your cold meat mass. Proceed to sprinkle in the Bells, and mix in; you’ll notice that the hunk crumbles easily when jabbed. Stir in the cracker crumbs, and use your hands to mash everything together. Pack up your washed and dried bird, and bake any extra in a heat-proof dish for a half hour. You can either serve two separate stuffings (bird-in and bird-out), or you can combine them to give the whole thing a subtle crunch. Who doesn’t want that?
Note: You may omit the crackers from the recipe to make filling for pork pies, in which case you would double the recipe for standard pie crust to allow for a top crust.