Around this time last year, I contributed a series of recipes to Yahoo! Food, and it was a lot of fun. As part of some company restructures, however, the website shut down in February. One of my favorite recipes from my short time there was this New Brunswick-Style Potato Stuffing, so I’m sharing it with you folks this week, just in time to nudge it into your Thanksgiving meal planning. Here’s what I wrote about it last year:
Folks who follow the Paleo diet sometimes get the short stick. For example: croissants. While solutions like “meatzas” (a pizza with a meat crust) might work in some contexts, there just isn’t a good way to create a flaky, lightly-textured pastry using nut flours, or heaven forbid, meat. Similarly, a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing (or “dressing” – more on that in a bit) is difficult to replicate. Typical Paleo reinterpretations feature (yep, you guessed it) meat, and sometimes nuts and dried fruit. All those things sound just fine, thank you very much, but not very reminiscent of stuffing.
Stuffing, as we commonly think of it, is a strange mix between crispy and fluffy, and is often overwhelmingly savory; this taste sensation expertly complements tart cranberry sauce, creamy mashed potatoes, rich gravy, and (hopefully) juicy turkey. So when conceiving a grain-free, Paleo-friendly stuffing, my mind kept returning to fried potatoes – crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. I almost ran to my local library to do some research, but then I remembered about Google, and discovered that there already exists a potato-based stuffing, just in a seldom-visited cranny of the world (New Brunswick, Canada).
New Brunswick-style potato stuffing is characterized by two concepts: potatoes, and the use of savory (also known as “summer savory”). Savory is a defining seasoning in Atlantic Canada, and is used in most poultry seasonings in the same way that we Yanks use sage. We’re going to use a combination of both savory and sage, to make everyone happy. New Brunswick-style stuffing also typically uses bread slices in addition to the potatoes, but we’ll go ahead and ignore that fact since this is a Paleo recipe.
To get the perfect potato texture, we’re going to par-boil the potatoes to remove some of their starch and to soften them up; that way we can just blast the potatoes over a relatively high heat to crisp them up without worrying about whether they’re done on the inside. We’ll be frying them in duck fat, because it’s delicious, but lard, coconut oil, or any other high-heat oil will work just fine. In a separate pan, we’ll prepare the rest of the dish, then combine the two just before serving (otherwise, the potatoes would get mushy).
One last note: there actually is a distinction between stuffing and dressing, although the distinction is mostly ignored. Stuffing is, by definition, a dressing that is placed inside of a turkey, while dressing is not. Personally, I grew up calling it “stuffing”, regardless of its location in relation to a bird, so we’ll stick with that for this recipe.
New Brunswick-Style Potato Stuffing (Gluten-free, Primal, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet, Whole30-adaptable)
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp savory
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup duck fat, lard, or coconut oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
8 celery stalks, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1. Combine the seasonings and set aside. Add the peeled and cubed potatoes to a stockpot, then rinse thoroughly. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by 1″; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle; set aside to drain for 5 minutes, jostling the strainer a bit from time to time as the potatoes dry.
2. In a cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the duck fat over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and toss until coated; let sit for 4 minutes without turning, then toss and allow to brown for 4 more minutes. Toss again and add the remaining duck fat and allow to pan-fry until crispy at the edges and golden brown, another 5-10 minutes, gently tossing occasionally.
3. As the potatoes finish, prep the remaining ingredients. In a separate skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes; add the celery and saute until softening at the edges, another 3 minutes. Add the seasonings and toss until combined, then remove from heat until the potatoes are finished.
4. Once the potatoes are crispy, stir in the celery mixture and the fresh chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed, then serve.